This past spring, Better Future Project made a big announcement that we would be expanding our campus fossil fuel divestment support nationally. Today, we’re officially launching Divest Ed, a new training and strategy hub for the national coordination of campus divestment campaigns.
Since 2011, the fossil fuel divestment movement has been training young people to hold institutions accountable while stacking concrete wins for people and the planet. Better Future Project has been coaching and training Massachusetts-based campus campaigns with an eye toward leadership development, but we felt it was time to expand the scope of our work nationally with a new name and new programmatic goals. With Divest Ed, we aim to continue this legacy by providing leadership development and concrete resources to divestment campaigns across the country, and by asking schools to finally decide whether they are civic leaders or corporations. We have just over a decade to solve the climate crisis. As every level of our government guts environmental legislation, people are looking increasingly to our local institutions for moral guidance.
In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, at least 80% of all known fossil fuels have to stay in the ground. This fact means that corporations are doing everything in their power to extract and burn as much coal oil and gas as they can before our laws catch up to their reckless practices. So long as they have power, they will use it to stop our government from passing the common-sense climate legislation that we desperately need. The people who are being hit first and worst by climate impacts and environmental destruction are poor people, people of color, and people in developing nations. The generations of greedy CEOs and industry lobbyists responsible for unfettered pollution and the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions will suffer the least from the impacts of climate change. Climate change is a symptom of the greed and unchecked corporate power of the fossil fuel industrial complex.
If we are to communicate to the fossil fuel industry, to CEOs, and to the politicians they own, that we won’t stand for their destructive business model, we have to impact their bottom line; we have to speak with our money and our influence. It is not acceptable that 1% of the population owns the vast majority of wealth in this country. It is not acceptable that wealth allows some people to own politicians and virtually run our government. It is not acceptable that the richest and most powerful people in the United States work together in coalitions to maintain the status quo, to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is not acceptable that our colleges and universities are profiting from this business model.
Will our colleges and universities comply with corporate marching orders, or will they act more boldly, by divesting from what harms us? Will our universities act as civic leaders and take a stand for people and communities, or will they choose to stand for nothing while they empower corporations?
At Divest Ed, we’re measuring success not just in divestment wins, but in relationships that organizers build on, between, and beyond campuses. We’re measuring success in the coalitions created, in resources reinvested, and in lasting commitments to the social justice movement. To hold corporate interests accountable for their reckless behavior, we need to be more connected and coordinated than ever before. Our goal is to coordinate and amplify a sustainable student movement led by young people, where they can challenge their institutions, build critical awareness among each other, share resources, and continue to organize for social justice long after they have left school.
Please sign up to receive updates about our work. We’re excited to share our resources, events, and leadership development opportunities with you. Look out for more in the coming weeks, and stay up-to-date by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or connect with us in our digital community on Slack. We can’t wait to hear what your campus campaigns are cooking up this year!