Democracy Now! - December 2, 2015

The growing campaign for divestment from the gas, oil and coal companies reached a new milestone today. 350.org Executive Director Mary Boeve announced more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have now made at least a partial commitment to divest from fossil fuels. In France, 19 cities have just endorsed divestment, including Lille, Bordeaux, Dijon, Saint-Denis and Île-de-France. Last week, the French National Assembly adopted a resolution encouraging companies and local authorities not to invest in fossil fuels. Over the past few months, the global fossil fuel divestment movement has claimed a number of victories; Uppsala, Sweden and Munster, Germany divested from fossil fuels and the London School of Economics abandoned its holdings in coal and tar sands.

The seventh largest economy in the world has “de-linked carbon from GDP,” says Kevin de León, president pro tem of the California Senate. De León led the effort in the California Senate to pass a resolution to divest two of the world’s largest pension funds from fossil fuels: CalPERS and CalSTRS, the California Public Employees Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System. Together the two funds represent nearly $500 billion in assets. California is in its fifth year of a massive drought, de León notes, and has faced devastating forest fires linked to climate change. We also speak wtih Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, which has played an instrumental role in the divestment movement.

In India, one of the country’s oldest newspapers, The Hindu, did not print today for the first time in more than a century due to massive rains and floods in the southern city of Chennai. The publisher said it was the first time the daily paper has failed to publish in its entire 137-year history. Local officials say floods have killed 188 people over recent weeks and Indian government has deployed the army to rescue thousands of people stranded in Chennai. We speak with the managing editor of The Hindu, G. Ananthakrishnan. "We don’t know how we’ll distribute the paper tomorrow. It’s going to be very difficult," Ananthakrishnan says. "It’s a deluge."

Oil giant ExxonMobil is under criminal investigation in New York over claims it lied to the public and investors about the risks of climate change. Now Exxon is fighting back against the journalists who exposed how it concealed its own findings dating back to the 1970s that fossil fuels cause global warming, alter the climate and melt the Arctic ice. Students at Columbia Journalism School collaborated with The Los Angeles Times on two of the exposés. Exxon accused the students of producing inaccurate and misleading articles. In its complaint, Exxon also referred to the "numerous and productive relationships" Exxon Mobil has with Columbia; Exxon has donated nearly $220,000 to the school. On Tuesday, Steve Coll, the dean of the Columbia journalism school, responded to Exxon’s critiques after an extensive review. Our guest Bill McKibben has been following the Exxon exposes closely. In October he was arrested after staging a one-man protest at a local Exxon station. He held a sign reading, "This pump temporarily closed because ExxonMobil lied about climate."

One of the world’s leading climate campaigners is missing from the U.N. climate summit in Paris, because he is sitting in a prison cell after being deposed in a military coup. Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was a key voice at the 2009 U.N. climate summit for island nations threatened by rising sea levels. "Nasheed promised to take his whole country carbon neutral by 2020. Instead, the dictators running it now are inviting the oil industry in to drill," says our guest Bill McKibben. "If you want to think about irony, it doesn’t get much better than that."

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, says the U.N. Climate Summit reveals the "scoreboard" for activists pushing governments to take action on global warming, and shows "how much more work we have to do." He argues whatever agreement comes out of the meeting "won’t be enough" to avoid putting the world on a path to higher temperatures and an "uninhabitable world." As France continues to ban protests at the summit, McKibben says he was moved to tears by the the outpouring of solidarity actions this weekend in 2,200 places around the world.

A new report by Oxfam has found the richest 10 percent of the world’s population produce half of the Earth’s climate-harming fossil fuel emissions. The poorest half – about 3.5 billion people – are responsible for only around 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Oxfam’s report is titled “Extreme Carbon Inequality: Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first." We speak with the report’s author Tim Gore, head of policy for Oxfam International on food, land rights and climate change.

The Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA), an organization that uses art to inspire social change, brought a delegation of poets from around the world to Paris to highlight the impacts of climate change and inspire climate action. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a poet and climate activist from the Marshall Islands, led the group. She shared a poem at a protest at COP21 called “Tell Them,” calling for fossil fuel divestment.

Click the link to continue watching full episodes of Democracy Now! https://www.freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.