May 20

More Divestment: Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence

unitarian-society-northampton-300x234The congregation of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence on May 19, 2014 voted at its annual meeting to divest its endowment of fossil fuel stocks within five years. The resolution, which was supported by the board of trustees and by an overwhelming majority of the congregation in attendance, had been the focus of many meetings and discussions at the society over the past months.

The decision at Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence comes just one day after a similar decision at First Religious Society of Newburyport.  These two congregations join other Unitarian Universalist Congregations in deciding to divest, including First Parish of Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, and First Parish in Hingham (known as “Old Ship of Hingham”). Among other faith communities that have passed divestment resolutions are United Church of Christ, which has decided to divest nationally, and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Read more about this divestment in the Hampshire Daily Gazette.

May 20

First Religious Society of Newburyport Votes to Divest

First Religious Society of NewburyportOn Sunday, May 18, First Religious Society of Newburyport voted in favor of a resolution calling for divestment of fossil fuel stocks from its holdings. The vote followed emotional discussion, but ultimately passed with the support of the the Minister, Harold Babcock, and only one vote against. The vote is a major milestone in the congregation’s year-long exploration of divestment.

First Religious Society of Newburyport joins with other Massachusetts Unitarian Universalist Congregations in deciding to divest, including First Parish of Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, and First Parish in Hingham (known as “Old Ship of Hingham”).  Among other faith communities that have passed divestment resolutions are United Church of Christ, which has decided to divest nationally, and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.  The nationwide body, Unitarian Universalist Association, will consider divestment at its annual convention in June in Providence RI.

First Religious Society of Newburyport now plans to share its experience with other congregations to encourage divestment.  Outreach by First Religious Society of Newburyport coincides with the formation of the North Shore Divestment Network, which has formed to support communities in their exploration of divestment.

May 16

Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Sweeps MA as Three More Towns Vote in Favor of Divestment

framingham town meeting 2At town meetings in the last 10 days, three Massachusetts towns have approved resolutions calling for divestment from fossil fuels!  The resolutions call on the towns and the State of Massachusetts to confront the climate crisis and take a stand against fossil fuel companies by withdrawing funds from fossil fuel investments.

On the evening of Thursday, May 15, Framingham approved a divestment resolution. The vote in Framingham is especially significant because Framingham is the most populous municipality in the nation with a town-meeting form of government. Sudbury approved a divestment resolution on Wednesday, May 7, as did Concord on Tuesday, May 6. Framingham, Sudbury, and Concord join other towns that have also approved divestment resolutions: Amherst, Cambridge, Northampton, Provincetown, and Truro.

Ken Weiss, who introduced the divestment resolution at Framingham Town Meeting said, “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to confront the climate crisis. Tonight, the Town of Framingham sends a message that it is time to transition to a future beyond fossil fuels.”

“Divestment is a proven strategy that has been used effectively to solve large-scale problems when other solutions were being blocked”, said Bob Lawson, who presented the resolution in Concord, “ Vested interests are blocking climate solutions. This is not about starving the fossil fuel companies of funds; this is about mobilizing the grassroots to counter their political power.”

“The climate crisis is highly urgent, and our entire society has been thwarted by political power of the fossil fuel industry. Now we are using divestment to push back. The town of Sudbury has taken a great step, and we also call on the State of Massachusetts to divest the pension fund,” said Bob Morrison, and resident of Sudbury.

Towns are not the only ones driving the divestment movement in Massachusetts. Faith organizations, such as the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and individual Unitarian Universalist congregations have also approved divestment resolutions. Massachusetts legislation, known as S.1225, proposed by Senator Downing of Pittsfield would divest the State’s pension fund.  Earlier this month, students from across the University of Massachusetts system recently met with the system president, Robert L. Caret, to discuss divestment.

May 09

Gov. Patrick Calls for a Future Free of Fossil Fuels

Last Friday, after months of campaigning, Better Future Project / 350 Massachusetts and our partners at Students for a Just and Stable Future sat down with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to discuss his remarkable climate record and our call for him to further build upon it by banning the worst, building only the best, and beginning to price the rest. 

We decided to focus our energies on Governor Patrick because he has been such a strong leader on climate change, having made clean energy and climate action a cornerstone of his administration and having led the nation with policies around energy efficiency and clean energy.

Once again, just a week after our meeting, Governor Patrick has stepped up to the plate on climate change: while speaking today at the commencement ceremony of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he referenced “heat waves, coastal flooding, intense precipitation and more extreme storms” and invoked a “future free of fossil fuels.”  Excitingly, he also called for Massachusetts to “finally end all reliance on conventional coal generation” within the next four years. 
gov patrick speech meme 3

 We honor leaders who take bold action in difficult times. By calling for a clean energy future that moves beyond all fossil fuel usage, Governor Patrick has shown himself to be a leader willing to take on the crisis of climate change — starting with an end to coal. It’s clear that our efforts to advance the conversation around climate change in Massachusetts are already paying off.

And with our support, Governor Patrick is not just changing the conversation around climate change, but translating that talk into action. Among other things, the Governor announced a new Clean Energy Standard, which would favor efficiency and zero-emissions energy sources like solar and wind over fossil fuels, and put an end to “high-emissions sources” like coal.

We are still in conversations with the Governor’s office about the rest of our platform, but I hope you share my enthusiasm for this major step forward to a clean energy future.

Many groups and people share this victory: environment and public health groups and frontline communities, among others, have pushed for changes like this for years. But I believe that our grassroots movement-building was instrumental in making this possible. When you unite people across the state around a common purpose and a clear strategy, you can accomplish great things.

So take some time to grab a drink with a friend, jump in the air, or just pat yourself on the back. Remember this feeling: we will need this reminder about the power of grassroots organizing when the odds are against us and the situation looks grim. For today, let’s celebrate!

Onward and upward,

Craig S. Altemose

Better Future Project Executive Director

P.S.: We just put this meme on Facebook announcing the news. Share it far and wide!

May 07

A New Revolution: Towns of Concord and Sudbury Vote in Favor of Divestment

Concord Minute Man StatueOn May 6 Concord Town Meeting voted in favor of a resolution precluding investment in fossil fuels by an overwhelming vote, and on May 7 the town of Sudbury also voted in favor of a divestment resolution. Two Massachusetts towns have decisively and publicly declared their support for divestment in two days!  Congratulations to the 350MA MetroWest node for this outstanding achievement!

The Concord vote approved article 40, which urges the Town Treasurer to take three actions. First, take an assessment of Concord’s investments in fossil fuels; second, Sell any direct holdings within 5 years and not buy any more; and third notify the managers of commingled funds that Concord asks for divestment.  The Sudbury vote approved article 44, which contains the divestment resolution. The Sudbury article passed with a comfortable margin in a voice vote. An estimated 70% voted in favor and an estimated 30% opposed or abstaining.

The resolutions also support proposed state legislation, S. 1225, which would divest the state pension plan of fossil fuel investments. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield and endorsed by all of the top environmental organizations and SEIU Local 509.

Concord and Sudbury join other Massachusetts municipalities, Amherst, Cambridge, Northhampton, Provincetown, and Truro, which have passed similar divestment measures.

May 02

Update from Our Meeting with Gov. Patrick!

Craig Altemose, Carolyn Barthel and Christian Roselund from 350MA / Better Future Project and Alli Welton and Ben Thompson from Students for a Just and Stable Future just met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to discuss the Climate Legacy campaign platform!

Here’s a message from Craig about the meeting:

“ Along with 350MA volunteer leaders and our partners at Students for a Just and Stable Future, I just met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick about our Climate Legacy Campaign platform: Ban the Worst (coal, tar sands, and fracking), Build Only the Best (no new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state), and Begin to Price the Rest (create an inclusive process to evaluate a carbon tax for the state).

This meeting was only possible because of the relentless engagement of volunteer leaders who protested coal at Shut Down Brayton Point and championed wind at the Energy Exodus, who built up strong nodes across the state, who made countless phone calls and wrote countless e-mails to the Governor’s office, and who helped us show 400 beautiful faces in opposition to the proposed Salem Gas Plant.

Governor Patrick was receptive to some of our ideas and skeptical of others. But he clearly recognized the power of our grassroots movement, and there seemed to be a shared commitment from both sides to move forward on areas of agreement and make the best of the Governor’s remaining time in office.

There will be much to be excited about; at the same time, we should expect that we will not achieve everything we set out to achieve in the campaign through this meeting. But that does not mean we will be giving up on anything, either.

We have been told to expect another meeting with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs within the next week and are going to begin moving forward on areas of agreement on the inside as we continue to build public support for our work on the outside.

Among other things, we’ll need to keep a close eye – and a willingness to act – on Salem, where construction is expect to start soon on the proposed gas plant.

We could not have made it this far – and we will make it no farther – without you. Over 50 organizations have signed on to our letter to endorse the Climate Legacy Campaign.

We’re hoping to have that number increase to 100 by the time we meet next with the Governor. Please sign on organizations or have them sign up through this form. (If you’d like to endorse the campaign as an individual, sign here. If you’d like to endorse the campaign as a faith leader, sign here.)

And thanks, everyone — we’re making history!

Craig”

May 01

Show Support During the Meeting with Gov. Patrick on May 2nd

date (2)On Friday, May 2nd, 350 Massachusetts / Better Future Project will meet with Governor Deval Patrick. We’ll ask him to ban coal, fracking and tar sands, stop the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, and begin moving towards a carbon tax. Two 350MA volunteers will attend the meeting, along with Craig Altemose, Better Future Project executive director, and two students from Students for a Just and Stable Future. Join them to show your support! We’ll rally outside the Statehouse before the meeting, and while it’s happening, we’ll build excitement on social media and leave materials at legislators’ offices. After the meeting concludes, we’ll hear directly from attendees about the outcome. If you can’t make it in person, stay tuned on social media: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates. 

WHAT: Meeting with Governor Deval Patrick
WHEN: 8:30am-10:30am on Friday, May 2nd
WHERE: 24 Beacon Street, right outside the Statehouse

 

Apr 30

350MA in DC for Reject and Protect

RejectProtectOn Saturday, April 26th, Better Future Project / 350MA joined the Cowboy Indian Alliance for Reject and Protect in DC! Here’s a photo of us with our allies from Alternatives for Community and Environment. We rallied on the National Mall to hear inspiring words from ranchers, farmers, and Native American tribes living along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route. The event culminated in the delivery of a hand-painted tipi as a gift to President Obama and a march of thousands past the Capitol building. It was an incredible show of unity. Thank you to everyone who showed their support and joined us there! See here for some photos, courtesy of Monica Briggs.

 

Apr 25

Building Support for the Climate Legacy Campaign

patrOn May 2nd, 350 Massachusetts and our student allies will sit down with Governor Patrick and ask him to adopt the Climate Legacy platform. This meeting is a huge step forward, and it wouldn’t have happened without the hundreds of people who wrote letters, made phone calls and attended rallies for the Climate Legacy campaign. Thank you!

Now, let’s show the governor that there’s overwhelming support for the Climate Legacy platform: we want to walk into the meeting with a long list of community organizations that have endorsed the campaign.

Can you commit to asking three organizations in your community to support the Climate Legacy platform?  We’d love support from all types of organizations, big and small. You could ask a local homeowner association, or a watershed protection organization, or your town’s hiking club.

Start by filling out this form, and we’ll send you all the materials you need.

If you’re a member of an organization and can endorse the campaign directly, you can do so here. A copy of the sign-on letter is here.

Thank you for all the work that you do: together, we’re showing Governor Patrick that Massachusetts is ready to move beyond fossil fuels.

 

Apr 23

Introducing the Cape & Islands Node


cape cod and islands
Cape Cod and the Islands will officially join the 350MA family at a kick off meeting on Sunday, April 27th! Sixteen organizations from the Cape and the Islands are sponsoring the kick off; speakers include Dr. Richard Houghton, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange, and Fiamma Straneo, an expert on glacial melt and sea level rise. Local band Paradise Rock will provide music. It should be a great launch for our newest node!  

WHAT: Cape & Islands Node Kick Off
WHEN: Sunday, April 27th, 3-5pm
WHERE: Falmouth Library, 300 Main St. in Falmouth

 

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