February 10, 2016

What Does Fossil Fuel Divestment have to do with Pipeline Resistance?

Over the past decade it seems that there has been an uproar among colleges, both big and small, around the conversation of fossil fuel divestment. Over 830 institutions internationally have set out to divest from fossil fuels, whether it’s starting a campaign or winning one.

This strategic movement is indicative of growing youth awareness, passion, and anger towards a profit-hungry industry that aims to displace, poison, and erase the livelihoods of cultures and people worldwide. This is one of the first generations of people to see the real effects of climate change, and along with it, a vastly globalizing world powered by neoliberal capitalist mechanisms. Our future and the land we are borrowing from generations ahead of us are at stake when we allow the institutions that we pay further these mechanisms. By divesting we stigmatize and demoralize an industry that seeks to stigmatize and demoralize environmental justice.

It is in this sense the fossil fuel divestment movement is inherently tied to pipeline resistance movements—and pipeline resistance is inherently tied to divestment. The recognition of the fossil fuel industry as a bundle of mechanisms that are all interwoven allows for our facets of resistance to be similarly interwoven.

By fossil fuel divestment campaigns supporting actions and movements against pipelines like Line 5 or expansions like the Alberta Clipper or Keystone XL, the pipeline resistance is bolstered by numbers as well as the connection of movements through narrative of stigmatization and liberation. When we stage sit-ins or protests against unjust and deadly investment strategies, the asks and demands we are making of institutions can be bolstered by the stories of pipeline resistance too.

These narratives speak against the inherent nature that the machinery in which neoliberal capitalism and the destruction of the environment constructs. The environment of isolation, individualism and greed are all combated from deeper roots when we approach these two acts of resistance with a mentality of collective action and storytelling. By uniting the efforts, struggles, and successes of fossil fuel divestment with those of pipeline resistance, our movement will move closer toward the collective goal of revolution and change.

So tomorrow, when we gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to demand answers in regards to Alberta Clipper at the Democratic debate, let’s also support the narrative of the multitudes of colleges in the United States who are seeking to reshape the power of their institution’s spending has. And when we gather to support actions or petitions to divest, let’s also support the narrative of resisting pipelines. These two facets of the revolution go hand-in-hand with highly intersecting motivations, stories, and passions and a collective energy to see justice in institutions and power in the hands of people.