Hundreds of activists from across the country are converging at Swarthmore College for the first-ever fossil fuel divestment convergence. The student-led PowerUp! Divest Fossil Fuel Convergence is taking place from February 22-24, and will include keynote addresses from influential activists, grassroots organizing trainings, and direct action.
Power Up! will be an opportunity for students from over 70 campuses across the country to meet, share skills, and develop strategies for a powerful student-driven national climate movement. Convergence speakers include Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Adam Hall of the Keepers of the Mountains, and Aura Bogado of Colorlines and The Nation. Large on-campus actions are planned for Friday and Sunday.
Workshops and trainings will focus on working with communities directly affected by fossil fuel extraction, building coalitions, developing campaign skills, and planning national strategy. A coalition of organizers from the Responsible Endowments Coalition, 350.org, New Economics Institute, As You Sow, Sierra Student Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, Better Future Project, and California Student Sustainability Coalition will lead and participate in trainings, strategy sessions, and panel discussions.
Over the past year, the fossil fuel divestment movement has grown to include student campaigns from over 230 colleges. Three colleges, Unity, Hampshire, and Sterling, have committed to portfolios free of fossil fuel stock. Cities, pension funds, churches, and individuals have joined the movement to divest as well. Student campaigns have been gaining attention nationwide with petitions, referendums, public art displays, and rallies.With divestment, students are bringing a renewed sense of urgency to the climate movement, and calling on university administrators and politicians to follow their lead.
"The Power Up! Student Convergence has the potential to springboard the growing fossil fuel divestment fight into a broad social movement for climate justice," said Zein Nakhoda, one of many student organizers of the convergence. "Students will work to build synergy between those taking direct action on the frontlines, those working to transform their local institutions, and those campaigning for bold climate legislation."
In organizing and facilitating the convergence, Power Up! strives to uphold principles of student power, inclusion, and environmental justice. When we divest from fossil fuels, we act in solidarity with frontline activists who have defended their communities against the fossil fuel industry for decades. In this way, divestment is one tactic among many that will help build a social movement able to effect the cultural and political change needed to achieve climate justice.
The economic and political power of the fossil fuel industry can only be matched by people power. Divestment is one crucial step in building the people power needed to enact bold climate legislation.
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