28 October 2013

BERLIN — The Fossil Free Europe tour officially began in Berlin last night, launching a new European-wide campaign to encourage universities, pension funds, and major banks to divest their holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by coal, oil and gas reserves.

Approximately 300 people attended a presentation at the Heinrich Boll Foundation last night, featuring Bill McKibben, an acclaimed author, activist, and co-founder of the international climate campaign, and guest speakers Herman Ott, a climate scientist with Bündnis 90/Grüne, Mona Bricke, Energy Policy Officer with klima-allianz deutschland, Arwen Colell with BürgerEnergie Berlin, and the musical performer Filastine.

“Germany has been a leader in creating the clean energy economy necessary to address the climate crisis,” said McKibben. “But all of that good work will go to waste if the country’s major institutions are still funding the fossil fuel industry that’s at the root of this crisis.”

The Fossil Free Europe tour is already generating significant media coverage across Europe, including news articles in Die Tageszeitung and Klimaretter in Germany, T24 in Turkey, and The Observer and Scotland Herald in the UK. [1]

On Monday, 28 October, McKibben will receive the international Sophie Prize Award in Oslo, Norway, where he will continue to spread the message about the need to challenge the fossil fuel industry to leave its carbon reserves in the ground. The newly appointed minister of Climate and Environment, Tine Sundtoft, will be presenting the award to McKibben.

After Oslo, the Fossil Free Europe Tour will continue on to Amsterdam, where over 700 reserved to attend the evening’s presentation, which will also feature Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. The tour will then continue to the UK for stops in Edinburgh, Birmingham and London.

“The Fossil Free Europe Tour is a bold initiative, catalysing a movement around divestment from fossil fuels and we are already starting to see results – the movement is getting bigger and stronger,” said Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo. “We need carbon liability for those who are destroying our future on this planet and those who profit from it.”

The European campaign will complement existing growing efforts by allies and partners such as People & Planet and Operation Noah in the UK with a focus, respectively, on university and church divestment [2] and Urgenda in the Netherlands.

Europe is already seeing divestment kick off; in July, Norwegian pension fund Storebrand and Dutch bank Rabobank took steps in that direction, and Sweden’s cluster of state pension funds have been recommended to dump fossil fuel holdings from the country’s Centre Party, which form the current government. In the UK, just this week, Quakers in Britain took steps to disinvest from companies engaged in extracting fossil fuels making them the first UK Christian denomination to do so. [3]

A recent study by the University of Oxford included that the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and that, “The outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain. »[4]

[1] Further details on tour schedule can be found here:

[2] People & Planet, working on university divestment, have launched 19 campaigns including universities with the largest endowments: Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. Also, later this month a report produced by, People & Planet and Platform entitled Knowledge and Power: Fossil Fuel Universities will be released exposing in detail the ties between UK universities and the fossil fuel industry serving as the most comprehensive assessment to date of UK universities’ investments in the fossil fuel industry. In parallel, Operation Noah, an ecumenical Christian charity, recently launched Bright Now — a campaign focusing on church divestment.

[3] Quakers in Britain divestment announcement:

[4] The Guardian Campaign against fossil fuels growing, says study