Today, we’re launching a new project to envision a climate-stable future — and brainstorm the strategies to make that vision a reality.
Today, the climate movement is full of unprecedented energy and momentum. Together, we’re marching in the streets and working to shift our institutions away from fossil fuels. We’re fighting coal exports, fracking, oil trains, and dirty energy in our communities. And, of course, we’re ready to engage in civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline if and when that time comes.
All of these fights are indispensable to shifting our society off carbon and creating the renewable energy economy. But, with so much of our attention focused on fighting short-term battles, it can be hard to find the time to ask one very important question: is what we’re doing enough—is it enough to change the course of history and prevent the worst? And how can we know if it’s enough, unless we start from a shared vision of what’s necessary and work backwards from it?
Our opponents in the fossil fuel industry have a vision for the future they want to see: a future where oceans and emissions rise unchecked, where extreme energy practices encroach on our communities, and where the worst impacts of climate change are shouldered by those least able to bear them.
But what’s our vision? From our perspective, building a shared vision of what we want to achieve is a necessary and pivotal step toward making that vision a reality. That’s why we’re launching Change the Course: People-Powered Strategies for a Stable Climate. Change the Course is an invitation to dig deep and think hard about what it would actually take to stabilize the climate and create a just transition to a post-carbon future.
Together, we’ll crowd-source a detailed vision of what a sustainable and just future would look like — and brainstorm the strategies and tactics that will get us there.
So ask yourself: what would it actually take to stabilize the climate and create a more just future? What specific things are in your vision of a just and climate-stable future?
The fossil fuel industry and their political allies are pushing us towards climate catastrophe, but a mass social movement can still change the course and chart a new direction toward a just and stable future. The great social movements of history all dared to dream of a completely remade world, despite the prevailing wisdom that things would never change. Now it’s the climate movement’s turn.
After years of pressure on Bank of America, they just announced a new coal mining policy: “Our new policy … reflects our decision to continue to reduce our credit exposure over time to the coal mining sector globally.”1
Translation: Bank of America is dumping coal mining!
This is a huge moment. Bank of America has gone from being the top bankroller of coal to having the strongest global coal mining policy of any major global bank. It’s the result of years of hard-hitting campaigning by RAN, our many front-line allies — and by you and all of RAN’s supporters in this fight. So, thank you for everything you’ve done.
Now, we have to hold Bank of America to its word by rigorously monitoring their implementation of this policy. And second, we have to push other banks to meet or exceed Bank of America’s coal mining policy. There are just a few short years left to meet the challenge of climate change. We need to build on this victory to stop the coal industry using big banks as ATMs.
I’m posting this from the Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC, where I came to hear today’s announcement in person. RAN has been at this meeting every year since 2011 to make the case that the bank should divest from coal mining. I'm thinking about the many allies whom we have stood here with throughout this campaign. Allies like Paul Corbit Brown, whose stunning photographs and eloquent advocacy have made it impossible for Bank of America to ignore the destruction that mountaintop removal coal mining has done to his home state of West Virginia. Allies like Pat Moore, who was so outraged by Bank of America funding the coal-fired power plants in her community, while her granddaughter suffered through asthma attacks, that she led a civil disobedience action here in Charlotte. I’m thrilled to share this moment with them.
When we started this campaign in 2011, most banks were basing their wafer-thin “climate commitments” around efficient lightbulbs in their branches and green-certified headquarters. Other banks felt that modest investments in renewable energy allowed them to ignore their huge investments in fossil fuels. After four years of hard work, Bank of America's coal mining policy represents a sea change: it acknowledges that they're responsible for the fossil fuels that they bankroll. This is a huge paradigm shift.
When we first approached Bank of America about instituting a responsible coal policy, they told us they were “diametrically opposed to our position on coal”. They said they aspired to be “number one in every sector” — including the fossil fuel sector. We took on Bank of America because they were the hardest target: they were the most resistant to stopping doing business as usual.
Today, with Bank of America’s new coal policy, we’ve reached a huge milestone. Now we have to make sure they’re as good as their word. Will you help us do that by chipping in today?
This new policy is the strongest to date of any global private-sector bank — but it can’t be the only one. Across the financial sector, we don’t need big banks to change the lightbulbs at their corporate headquarters, we need them to stop bankrolling fossil fuels that are killing the climate. Coal, oil and gas need to be left in the ground.
We’re going to push other banks to own up to the climate consequences of their financing decisions, and meet or exceed Bank of America’s policy. Time is running out to stop catastrophic climate change. We can’t meet the challenge of our era unless the big banks profiting from fossil fuels drop their support. Along with our allies — and supporters like you — we’ll build on today’s success to turn this into a truly sector-wide change.
But we can’t do it without you. Support that work today!
P.S. To celebrate the hard work of our allies and supporters in this fight, we’ve put together a timeline of key moments in the years-long campaign against Bank of America. Check it out!
1. “BREAKING: Bank of America dumps coal mining in sweeping new policy”, Rainforest Action Network, http://www.ran.org/breaking_bank_of_america_dumps_coal_mining_in_sweeping_new_policy
This post was last updated on May 20th, 2015.
Bank of America has gone from being the top bankroller of coal to having the strongest global coal mining policy of any major global bank. That's the result of years of hard-hitting campaigning by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), our many front-line allies — and by you and all of RAN's supporters in this fight. So, thank you for everything you've done! Here's a snapshot of the past four years.
RAN warns six banks, including Bank of America, that we are preparing to launch a campaign, by serving "On Notice" orders to "Cease and Desist" their financing of coal.
We announce our Bank of America campaign with a "Billionaires for Coal" protest at a San Francisco branch of the bank.
In an advocacy meeting, Bank of America tells RAN that they are "diametrically opposed" to our position on coal.
RAN teams up with Reverend Billy and Occupy Wall Street to lead a protest to a Bank of America branch at Zuccotti Park in New York. The People's Mic says:
We can imagine a world where people's health and communities come before corporate profits. Right now the country's biggest banks are trashing our economy, trashing our communities' health, and fueling our climate crisis. And Bank of America is the worst of the worst. It is the ATM of the companies that are bankrolling the coal industry and they are standing in the way of our future.
Over 60,000 customers close their Bank of America accounts during our "Move Your Money" initiative. We launch a banner action at Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, NC.
All 85 Bank of America ATMs in San Francisco are transformed into Truth Machines, inspiring similar actions in cities across the United States.
RAN re-brands Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium as "Bank of Coal Stadium".
Huge coalition calls on Bank of America at their shareholder meeting to put people and planet before profits. Over 1,000 protest outside shareholder meeting and over 100 are inside the meeting.
Bank of America makes an environmental commitment that falls far short of truly solving the problem. Charlotte citizens dump 500 pounds of coal on Bank of America's environmental commitment in response.
Direct action in Charlotte: four simultaneous lockdowns at Bank of America branches. Nine people arrested, including grandmothers Pat Moore (below, right) and Beth Henry.
In the space of three days, students disrupt Bank of America recruitment at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Boston College, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Bank of America's Annual General Meeting is dominated by approximately 30 frontline community members, medical professionals, students, and faith leaders. They all call on Bank of America to stop funding coal.
Student bank recruitment protests spread to over 70 campuses nationwide.
RAN circulates shareholder sign-on letter, begins engaging major Bank of America shareholders in support of proxy resolution calling for bank to measure and report on climate risks from lending.
A shareholder resolution calling for bank to measure and report on climate risks from lending receives 24% shareholder support.
This post was last updated on May 20th, 2015.
MEDIA: Press release here. For inquiries, contact:
Claire Sandberg, Rainforest Action Network: +01-646-641-6431, email@example.com
Yann Louvel, BankTrack: +33 688 907 868, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruby Shirazi, Sierra Club: +01 201 562 8560, email@example.com
There's a growing global recognition that it's time for banks to stop funding coal: it's financially risky and implicates them in serious environmental and human rights abuses. But the largest global investment banks continued to finance coal mining and power last year.
As the 2015 Coal Finance Report Card, The End of Coal?, published by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, and the Sierra Club, makes clear:
Even with the financial distress faced by the global coal industry in 2014, global financing for coal mining and top coal-fired power companies held steady at $141 billion, compared to $145 billion in 2013.
Disappointingly, major banks have also financed several worst-of-the-worst "extreme coal" producers with major human and environmental impacts. Continued exposure to these coal mining companies shows that several banks continue to fail to meet their basic human rights and environmental responsibilities.
On the positive side, in 2014, a critical mass of banks said "no" to particularly destructive coal mining projects and practices, including proposed development of the Galilee Basin in Australia, and mountaintop removal mining in the United States.
This year's report card rates the coal financing policies and practices of the largest global banks and highlights key case studies of global coal mining and power companies.
The banking industry must heed the warning signs of coal's systemic crisis, and take immediate steps to cut ties with the industry. If banks wait for the market to force them to transition away from coal, it will be too late for the climate.
Correction: Total coal mining financing figures for 2014 have been updated to $66.37 billion and bank coal mining financing rankings have changed due to a sector classification error involving a loan transaction on March 20, 2014 for WCL Finance Pty Ltd.
Did you know today is Earth Day?
Did you know that because you’ve been swamped with “Go Green” commercials?
Is your TV and Facebook suddenly filled with polar bears and pollution stats?
That’s not what Earth Day is about.
Earth Day was born out of action -- not slogans.
Through the vision of anti-war and environmental activists, Earth Day sprang to life in 1970 across colleges and universities, primary and secondary schools, and countless communities across the country. On that day, more than 20 million people took action and took the streets to support the planet.
Earth Day is about saying enough is enough. We must take meaningful action now.
So today I’m asking you to join us in our most important actions to preserve our forests, protect our climate and defend the human rights of frontline communities.
- Tell Ralph Lauren it’s time get deforestation and human rights abuses out of fashion.
- Urge President Obama to end coal, oil and gas [giveaways?] leases on our public lands and waters.
- After two years, it’s time for PepsiCo to finally eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its snack foods.
- Demand the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s Commitment to Not Destroy the Great Barrier Reef through Coal Financing.
- Support the movement for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt dietary guidelines that prioritize the environment.
- Call on the the world’s biggest palm oil traders to enforce an immediate moratorium on the clearance of rainforests and peatlands in the Leuser Ecosystem.
Please Join Us and take action today.
Because from now on, Earth Day is Every Day.
For people and planet,
Brad A Schenck - @BradASchenck
Digital Engagement Director
Five years ago today, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing eleven people and sending some 210 million barrels of oil flooding into the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama called it “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”.1
Never again. The president can help ensure there are no more disasters like the Deepwater Horizon — and establish his climate legacy at the same time. Call on President Obama to stop leasing our public lands and waters to the fossil fuel industry.
The Gulf Coast is still suffering. The 170,000 workers who cleaned up the spill are at greater risk for cancer, and kidney and liver disease.2 Last year, dolphins and whales off the Louisiana coast died at four times the usual rates.3 And 10 million gallons of oil sit on the Gulf floor in a congealed “bath mat” the size of Rhode Island.4
BP controls more of the deepwater Gulf than any other oil company, with an outrageous 600 leases.5 In the case of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a U.S. judge found BP’s conduct to be “grossly negligent”.6 But — to be clear — when it comes to the fossil fuel industry, gross negligence is business as usual.
So we’re joining our friends at CREDO Action to say: No more Gulf oil spills. No more giving away our public lands and waters to rapacious fossil fuel companies that care only about their profits. Tell President Obama to issue an executive order now.
President Obama wants to be remembered as a climate leader. But he has a huge climate blindspot. While the president has pushed for international agreements to limit carbon pollution, he's also presided over a massive drilling boom on our public lands and in our coastal waters.
That explosive growth is killing the climate. Emissions from federally managed lands and waters cause approximately 24 percent of U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions annually — mostly from coal, oil and gas.7
The solution is simple. If President Obama wants to establish a real climate legacy, he should issue an executive order instructing federal agencies to stop granting new and expanded leases to extract fossil fuels from public lands.
To avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists say we must keep between 67% and 80% of the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.8 One quarter of U.S. fossil fuel production happens on federally-managed lands and waters. The president can take a huge step towards stopping climate change — and preventing future Gulf oil spills. Urge him to issue an executive order today.
P.S. Bridge the Gulf, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Idle No More Gulf Coast are among the many organizations fighting for justice and accountability in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On this fifth anniversary of the BP disaster, support them today.
1. "Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill", White House Office of the Press Secretary, June 15, 2010
2. "BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers Are At Higher Risk Of Sickness, Cancer", ThinkProgress, Sep. 17, 2013
3. "Science Links Dolphin Deaths to BP Oil Spill – Again", National Wildlife Federation, Feb. 13, 2015
4. "Scientists have found a 10 million gallon 'bath mat' of oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico", Business Insider, Feb. 4, 2015
5. "Deepwater Gulf of Mexico", BP
6. "U.S. judge upholds BP 'gross negligence' Gulf spill ruling", Reuters, Nov. 13, 2014
7. "Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Energy Extracted from Federal Lands and Waters: An Update", Stratus Consulting, prepared for The Wilderness Society, Dec. 23, 2014
8. "Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets", Carbon Tracker Initiative & Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, 2013; "Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014.
A group of Gulf Coast residents staged a sit-in style occupation this morning inside the main entrance to BP’s Houston headquarters. The activists said this is the first of many demonstrations yet to come across the Gulf South leading up to the April 20th five year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that killed eleven workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
We have wrapped up our live blog. Thanks for joining us! More events are happening this week. Click here for the full list of events during Gulf South Rising Week of Action.
See below & check out RAN's Twitter account for more.
Got out of jail this morn after sitting in at BP. They cuffed us once we put our signs in window for all to see. BP cares about PR. #BPlies— annerolfes (@annerolfes) April 16, 2015
Six being arrested to mark fifth anniversary of deepwater horizon #bplies— Scott Parkin (@sparki1969) April 15, 2015
A group of Gulf Coast residents are staging a sit-in style occupation this morning inside the main entrance to BP’s Houston headquarters. The activists say this is the first of many demonstrations yet to come across the Gulf South leading up to the April 20th five year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that killed eleven workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
Under a four story glass atrium in BP’s central lobby, Gulf Coast residents have unfurled a ten foot banner that reads “NEVER AGAIN: No Sacrifice Zones” as well as other banners and signs reading “Extreme Energy our of our Communities” and “No Kill, No Spill: Keep it in the Ground.”
We'll continue to update this live blog, stay tuned. You can also follow along on RAN's Twitter account
BREAKING: Gulf Coast residents occupying BP HQ in Houston!
The U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank wants to finance a huge coal project that would put Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at risk. We are calling on Fred Hochberg, Chair of the Export-Import Bank, to stop the destruction.
Click the links below to send a tweet and take action:
- .@fredhochberg, will @EximBankUS damage the #GreatBarrierReef by funding Abbot Point coal port expansion? #savethereef
- .@fredhochberg Hi Fred! Will @EximBankUS be financing Adani's coal export terminal in the Great Barrier Reef? #savethereef
Thanks to your pressure last year, many of the world’s largest banks have said “no” to financing a huge coal project that would put Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at risk. But the Reef is still in danger. As you know, news reports have revealed that the U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank is considering financing this destructive project.
Thousands have taken to social media, calling on Fred Hochberg, Chair of the Export-Import Bank, to stop the destruction. Click now to add your voice!
Funding the Abbot Point coal port expansion is a step in the wrong direction. The port expansion and the coal mines that would feed it would gravely damage the Great Barrier Reef and accelerate climate change. The resultant dredging and ship traffic would threaten one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, a global treasure that is under protection as a World Heritage Site. Even Wall Street thinks the coal industry's plan to build a giant coal port in the middle of the reef is too toxic to fund. It’s ridiculous that a U.S. bank supported by taxpayer dollars would even consider funding such a destructive project.
We know that our pressure can help to stop the coal industry’s reef destruction. Thanks to your pressure, major banks have publicly committed not to fund this project, because it would be a disaster for the climate, the reef, and their bottom lines. Not only would this perpetuate climate chaos, the proposed Abbot Point expansion could threaten the breeding grounds of endangered green and loggerhead turtles.
In concert with our allies at the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, 350 and Friends of the Earth, we’ve been ramping up the pressure at the Export-Import Bank about this issue. We need to insure they are hearing loud and clear how dangerous investing in this project would be.
This is the perfect time for us to creatively change how we’re communicating with the bank, and we’ve discovered a great angle. Fred Hochberg, chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, is very active on twitter, tweeting nearly every day.
It’s time to amplify our message by tweeting at Fred Hochberg. Right now and through the week, send a tweet to @Fredhochberg about the proposed Abbot Point coal port expansion that the Export-Import Bank is considering financing.
The U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank isn’t used to having citizens weigh in on their decisions and Fred Hochberg isn’t used to having people communicate with him though his Twitter account. We have a great opportunity to impact his decision on whether or not to fund this destructive project. Let’s keep up the pressure so he knows we’ll be petitioning, calling and tweeting until this proposal is off the table.
1. "US Banks baulk at Abbot Point coal port expansion", The Australian, October 28, 2014
2. "Adani lines up $1 bln Indian state bank loan for Australian coal venture", Reuters, November 17, 2014
3. "Great Barrier Reef", United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
The message below comes to you from Patrick Robbins, an ally and activist working to promote wind power for Long Island's energy future for the following petition.
Sometimes you have a choice that’s just a no-brainer. Right now, Long Island is considering whether or not to lease part of the ocean off of its south shore for wind power. This area could generate up to 700 MW of energy for New York homes, and would be far enough offshore that most residents would never see it. The wind power companies are ready to go, and studies indicate that such a project would generate many thousands of jobs. Sounds great, right?
Here’s the thing—there’s also a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port being considered in the exact same location. This is Liberty Natural Gas’s Port Ambrose project, a dirty energy project that would take offshore wind in this area off the table. Port Ambrose would present a security and explosion risk by bringing giant tankers of liquefied natural gas into one of our country’s most heavily trafficked ports. It would be destructive to the marine environment both during construction and operation—according to the company, construction for the mainline alone would impact 197 acres of ocean floor. This would impact the bottom-dwelling species that make the ocean floor their home, with consequences all the way up the food chain.
Finally, Port Ambrose would lead to further fracking up and down the northeast. While the company claims that Port Ambrose will be for import only, this claim doesn’t stand up—the market trend for American shale gas right now is for exports, and the same company is currently working on another project in the U.K. where they could get far higher prices. Once Port Ambrose allows fracked gas to reach foreign markets, drilling suddenly becomes much more profitable, and measures like New York’s hard-won fracking ban begin to look much more tenuous. We know that fracking impacts our soil, our water, our air, our health and our climate in ways that we cannot allow. These are some of the reasons why the coastal community of Long Beach, which would be most directly impacted by Port Ambrose, has unanimously opposed the project, and why more and more elected officials are opposing Port Ambrose every week.
Fortunately, the choice isn’t settled yet. Both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have veto power over this project. We can make our voices heard by commenting on the Port Ambrose environmental impact statement, by signing this petition calling for Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie to veto the project, or by reaching out directly to Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie here.
Tell them to choose wind over LNG—because really, how easy a choice is that?
Patrick Robbins is the Communications and Development Coordinator for Sane Energy Project. He is an activist and author based out of Brooklyn, New York.
Last week we sent a strong statement with petitions to the U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank, telling them to stay away from the Great Barrier Reef coal port expansion — a deal that would wreck the Reef and cook the climate!
Now it’s time to amplify our message by making a call to the bank. Here’s how you can help:
Call this number: 1-800-565-EXIM (or 1-800-565-3946)
The line is open from 8am-8pm Eastern time.
Leave a message if your receive a recording. If you get a live operator, politely tell them why you called:
“I’m calling to tell the Ex-Im Bank not to finance Great Barrier Reef destruction! Please pass the following message on to chairman Hochberg. The proposed Abbot Point coal port in Australia would damage the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage site, and cook the climate. It’s too dirty for Wall Street, and it’s too dirty for Ex-Im Bank. Don’t finance reef destruction!”
Fred Hochberg, chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, recently launched a brand new customer support hotline. So far, this new line has only been receiving about 30 calls a day, and Hochberg has said he wants to get more people using this number. Let’s set a new record for daily calls, and send a clear message: don’t finance reef destruction!
The bank isn’t used to having citizens weigh in on their decisions. But when it comes to protecting the Great Barrier Reef and preventing climate change, we can’t afford to remain silent. Let’s make sure that the U.S. Export-Import Bank knows we'll fight to stop them from financing reef destruction.
Our petition got their attention: they know the public is watching what they will do on this issue. Now drive the point home by making a personal phone call to the bank’s hotline.
1. "Great Barrier Reef protection plan 'ignores the threat of climate change'", The Guardian, October 27, 2014
2. "Fred Hochberg, Chairman & President, Export-Import Bank", Federal News Radio, December 4, 2014