by Bill McKibben Sept. 17, 2019
We’re all deep in planning for the global climate strikes coming up on Friday (I’ve been with Greta Thunberg in DC the last couple of days, and it is thrilling to see the excitement building). But we need to march and to think at the same time, so I’m sending you what I think is the most important piece I’ve written in a number of years, which just came out this morning.
In essence, it’s an attempt to understand how we might make rapid progress on climate change — by pressuring not just governments but also the banks, insurance companies, and asset managers that support the fossil fuel industry. I was pretty shocked when I started reporting — four big American banks lead the world’s funding for coal, oil, and gas — and they’ve increased lending since the Paris climate accords. It takes years to move governments, but if these guys changed their policies, the stock market could shift overnight.
Whether it’s a question of moving banks or governments, there’s one common ingredient that’s always necessary to make change: mass movements. The Global Climate Strike is coming up this Friday. RSVP now to join me and millions of others worldwide as we take to the streets side-by-side with youth organizers.
We’ve all done some of this work of moving financial institutions in the divestment campaign (which passed the $11 trillion mark this week, and just succeeded in getting the University of California system to divest its $80 billion in total assets1). But we need to start thinking about how to expand that work to cut off the flow of money that keeps this rogue industry alive.
In fact, it might be a good thing to talk about when you’re striking on Friday. Because we know two things: those strikes are utterly crucial, and they won’t be enough. We’ve always got to be pressing forward!