A climate battle has begun in New York City. It’s a battle against the fossil fuel industry. The tide is turning against the fossils. There is now a line in the sand.
Source: YouTube video, New York City, CNN Money
The Tide Is Turning
For the millions of climate advocates worldwide, the first days of 2018 bring remarkably good news. The tide is turning against fossil fuels report Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.Org) and renowned author Naomi Klein in their joint email blast to 350.Org members. “Momentum is on our side. Our future is a Fossil Free one,” say the two prominent climate activists in response to the New York City blockbuster announcement to divest $5 billion of the city’s pension funds from fossil fuels and sue oil companies for damages caused by their industry.
McKibben has tweeted this is “one of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight.”
One of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight: NYC announces it will divest giant pension fund and sue the oil companies for damages. Earth’s mightiest city now in full-on fight with its richest, most irresponsible industry https://t.co/iFakWojmgr
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 10, 2018
“It’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio during the January 10 press conference. With these few words, New York City is launching an assault on climate change in the US.
Mayor de Blasio added that “New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels.” He went on to say, “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.”
The Guardian has called the New York decision to divest “a really big deal…[that] could spur a global shift…[that] will catalyze others in the US and around the world to follow.” New York’s status as a world financial and cultural centre will inspire and propel other jurisdictions to join the global shift to reduce emissions and ward off the worst consequences of global warming.
Unstoppable Decline of Fossil Fuels
New York’s climate action follows a series of other announcements that underscore the unstoppable decline of fossil fuels. France announced it will ban the sale of combustion engine – gas and diesel – cars by 2040. And more recently, President Macron announced a ban of all oil and gas production also starting in 2040. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is considering divestment from fossil fuel companies. Furthermore, at the recent One Planet Summit, President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank Group said it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019.”
Canada Is Going In the Opposite Direction
Canada’s federal government has no plans to go fossil free. In fact, the Trudeau government actively supports the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands by approving new pipelines and new fossil fuel infrastructure. In fact, it is just now reviewing the Teck Frontier project that would see the largest open pit tar sands mine ever proposed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to boast about Canada’s climate leadership, particularly on the international stage. But a growing number of Canadians are questioning both his leadership and the credibility of Canada’s national climate plan. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change includes a woefully inadequate national carbon pricing policy and a series of policy initiatives that are still on the drawing board two years after the signing of the Paris Agreement.
The leadership of New York City, San Francisco, and other U.S. local governments is an important challenge to Canadian local and provincial governments. How long are you going to pass the costs of climate change onto your taxpayers without demanding accountability from an industry that has benefited so much—and played such a large role—in causing climate change? (staff lawyer Andrew Gage)
The Courage to Believe
Indeed the tide is turning against fossil fuels. The New York announcement is the game-changer we’ve been waiting for. It will trigger an avalanche of similar actions around the world. We must continue to have the courage to believe in a better future. We need to act boldly against climate change as if our lives depend on it, because they do.