Many environmentalists have been frustrated for years–even decades–at the lack of momentum around climate change. The political system has been hopeless. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conferences have been dismal. Individual actions are important but can’t outweigh the effects of a warming planet. This is one of the reasons why divestment has taken off so quickly: it enables individuals to take matters into their own hands and put pressure where it matters–on the fossil fuel industry.
Fossil fuels receive $1 trillion each year (globally) while renewables receive $66 billion. In the US, fossil fuel companies receive 6 times more in federal subsidies that the renewable energy sector. This money goes into lobby and funding climate denial. Around 97% of scientists confirm anthropogenic global warming, yet only 44% of Americans believe that most scientists agree on climate change. So while people think that they are free to choose their energy sources, we’re not. We’re coerced. This is another reason why divestment is so powerful–it’s declaring that people will challenge the hegemony of a dominant structure and advocate for a new kind of freedom.
So far, 182 campuses have joined the divestment movement. But students are not the only ones involved. The United Church of Christ Massachusetts Conference is voting on fossil fuel divestment. They are the first religious group to do so. Santa Monica is also looking into divesting. And people around the country are ready to stand against tar sands pipelines.
We are in a new era. More and more people are realizing the global warming must be solved now. And more and more people are taking action. How many times in life can you say that, right now, we’re making history?