Students celebrate SF resolution to divest from fossil fuels

|
(19)
Bill McKibben: "If you’re invested in the fossil fuel industry, then you are profiting from the wreckage of the climate."
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

Famed environmental writer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben wore a short-sleeved T-shirt as he stood on the steps of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon and addressed a crowd of energized student climate activists.

“It’s a pretty day here, but it’s a little warmer than it should be,” he remarked of the hot afternoon with temperatures creeping above 80 degrees F. “This is the hottest May 2 ever recorded in the city of San Francisco.”

McKibben was there to celebrate a recent victory for his organization’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, which came last week when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a resolution by Sup. John Avalos urging the San Francisco Employee Retirement System to divest from companies that hold fossil fuel reserves.

McKibben’s organization, 350.org, has been urging colleges, universities and city governments across the country to enact similar measures. “This is pretty simple math. The math is, if you’re invested in the fossil fuel industry, then you are profiting from the wreckage of the climate,” McKibben said. You are making a bet that nothing will ever be done to stop or slow down climate change, because if anything ever is done, it will put those investments at risk. The perversity of that is stunning.”

Students across the country have organized campaigns to divest, borrowing a tactic from the anti-apartheid movement. Over the last couple days, “The students at the Rhode Island School of Design had gone and occupied their president’s office, because they were getting no attention to their demand for divestment,” McKibben noted. “And they dropped a banner out the window. And the banner said, ‘We may be art students, but we can still do the math.’”

He went on: “There’s no absolute guarantee that we’re going to win this fight. But I do know … that we’re at the very least going to fight. And fight hard.”

Sup. John Avalos also delivered comments at the rally. When he first contemplated introducing the resolution, “I thought, oh no, just another advisory measure that we’re going to do as a Board of Supervisors,” Avalos admitted, “but I also saw the real value of it. That if San Francisco could take a stand like this, it could have a real impact on all the other cities around the country.”

He added that the most compelling argument for divestment was that, “We know that we cannot take all of the fossil fuel out of the ground that those corporations are seeking. And eventually … they’ll be stranded assets that we’ll have no return on in the future.”

Asked after the rally whether he thought SFERS would indeed divest as a result of the nonbinding resolution, McKibben told the Bay Guardian, “I have no doubt that they will. … I think that that’s starting to happen all over the country, and I think people like Supervisor Avalos are serious about making sure that it’s for real. You know, in Washington we make rhetorical statements with nothing behind them, but hopefully in San Francisco,” things will turn out differently, he added.

Earlier in the day, Norm Nickels of SFERS noted that the resolution has not yet been added as an agenda item for the Retirement Board to take up, because it has not yet cleared the final hurdle for official Board of Supervisors approval.

Comments

"“It’s a pretty day here, but it’s a little warmer than it should be,” he remarked of the hot afternoon with temperatures creeping above 80 degrees F. “This is the hottest May 2 ever recorded in the city of San Francisco.”

LOL. With about two-thirds of meteorological spring gone, we are currently having the second-coldest spring on record in the US. He obviously hasn't checked out the weather in Minnesota over the last month.

BTW, McKibben teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. It must have been a long, punishing train trip out to San Francisco, since I'm sure McKibben would never stoop to flying in a carbon-spewing jet aircraft.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on May. 02, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

Good one :-)

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 02, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

Of course the fact that it may be the second coldest spring on record in the U.S. should be just as worrisome as that it is the hottest May 2.

The Repuglican Death Cult-ers will use any irrational argument to avoid acknowledging the problem of anthropogenic climate change which brings these extremes on a more and more frequent basis.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 02, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

What about the drought which killed off Anasazi civilization back in the 1300s? Global warming again?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 02, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Human stupidity and greed.

Not sure what killed off the Anasazi, but it wouldn't be a bad bet.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 02, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

The Anasazi were killed off by invading Navaho. 'Anasazi' is a Navaho word.

Posted by pete moss on May. 03, 2013 @ 4:50 am

Unusually warm weather is proof of global warming!

Unusually cold weather is also proof of global warming!

Unusually normal weather is additional proof of global warming!

The fact that there has not actually been any increase in global temperatures for sixteen years now is yet more proof of global warming!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on May. 02, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

Climate and weather are not the same thing. Here in the Bay Area, we are experiencing warmer weather than usual. You, in the midwest, are experiencing colder and wetter weather than usual. Climate encompasses worldwide trends, not localized trends. When taking worldwide trends into account, it's incredibly hard to ignore or discount climate change as a real thing that is actually happening.

Posted by JALA on May. 02, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

H0ow do you treat a Company like Shell in this debate? The "green" provider for the San Francisco CCA is also an oil driller. Can you invest "some" money but not "all"? Well, since the City does not own "all" of the company can it but some and divest the same amount and be following this resolution?

Posted by Buck on May. 02, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

Expect the Bay Guardian to NOT provide an answer to that one!

By the way, why is the Bay Guardian now accepting advertising from Bud Light? I saw a Bud Light ad plastered all over the front of the print version of this week's issue. It's kind of ironic that the Bay Guardian rants about chains and big corporations but at the same time gladly accepts revenue from them.

Posted by Kristin on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:04 am
Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:29 am
Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:42 am

politically incorrect, they will end up investing only in municipal bonds.

Is that incestuous outcome the real point here?

Utterly pointless gesture.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 12:05 am

shame it is only just a useless, hypocrital gesture.

but then again, he strikes me as a bit of a knucklehead, so I guess I'm glad he's not out there trying to do anything significant

Posted by GuestD on May. 03, 2013 @ 8:07 am

long as he can make a vacuous meaningless point.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:06 am

Avalos drives a car and I'm sure that takes trains and planes. The food that he buys gets to the market because of fossil fuels.

But the next time he goes to the pump he can feel better because he has properly punished the people who sell him the fuel that he buys to make his daily life possible.

Posted by Troll on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:47 am

S&P 500 index over 1,600 also for the first time ever - another all-time high.

Let's hope the SF pension fund has been fully invested in the kind of companies that Avalos hates.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 10:40 am

These days, you do a lot better investing in ammo makers than green energy companies.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on May. 03, 2013 @ 11:50 am

I believe the science regarding climate change, but I have to chuckle over this "celebration" about a non-binding resolution, which the article notes hasn't even received final Board approval. Also, are there not enough environmental activists in SF and the rest of the Bay Area that one has to be flown in from Vermont?

Does Sup. Avalos really believe his own rhetoric?

I like SF, but sometimes it truly is a ridiculous, ridiculous town.

Posted by Chris on May. 05, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Also from this author

  • Police provide explanation of Bernal Heights Park shooting at emotional town hall meeting

  • San Francisco's untouchables

    Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

  • Draining the tank

    Students push UC system to divest from fossil fuels, joining an international movement gathering soon in San Francisco