AGU Quietly Began Divesting From Fossil-Fuel Industry in 2021

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 11 Jan 2023 16:44:00 GMT

After years of protests from its climate-scientist members for its ties to climate polluters, the American Geophysical Union quietly divested its $100-million-plus investment portfolio from the fossil-fuel industry. In November 2021, AGU leadership posted a video labeled only “AGU announces change in its investment strategy.” In the video, AGU president Susan Lozier announced the implications of its newly adopted ESG investment policy:

Also as a result of this policy, AGU has no direct investments in fossil fuels. However, a recent audit of AGU’s portfolio showed that approximately five percent of our holdings are invested in fossil fuels through our mutual fund accounts. Today’s announcement is to let you know that AGU has started to divest its portfolio of these holdings to strengthen our commitment to mission-related investments and to better align with our strategic plan, which places a strong focus on a sustainable future.
In the video, AGU president-elect Susan Gramlich explained the decision was a result of the “unprecedented climate emergency” which makes this an “all-hands-on-deck moment for our scientific community,” while recognizing that AGU members include employees of fossil-fuel companies.
As Susan mentioned, AGU’s Board’s decision was focused on making sure our actions match our strategic plan, who we are as an organization and our investment policy. Core to all three is that we must address our global climate crisis. The world is facing an unprecedented climate emergency where every decision – and inaction – affects all who inhabit our planet. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our scientific community as we are called upon to continue to build our capacity to anticipate the impacts of climate change and work with others to ground policy and practices in our science. As we continue to pursue our science, we are also engaging with an ever broadening array of fields of expertise from scientific to social to political. We aspire to deepen our collaboration with the private sector, especially those companies that are committed to truly doing better for future generations by advancing science-based solutions. . . Our members also work in and for a variety of organizations, including non-profits, academia, scientific organizations, government programs and corporations, including fossil-fuel companies.

AGU past president Robin Bell, a cryosphere geophysicist, discussed the AGU Finance and Investment Committee’s plan for “net carbon neutrality” with AGU investments, which opens the door for further investment in the fossil-fuel industry.

The current landscape is very dynamic and as Earth scientists, we understand that the fossil fuel companies have the potential to become truly renewable energy companies driving carbon sequestration and direct air capture. Carbon Capture and sequestration will be essential to meet the Paris Agreement goals. We know developing robust metrics for a carbon neutral portfolio will not be simple given the complexities of the carbon cycle. We will build on the evolving understanding of carbon in the Earth system that our membership brings to this discussion. We are grateful for the work of our scientists and will be looking to our community to help us hone our strategies.

At that time AGU adopted a new investment policy with the vague language:
Based on a desire to align the Long-Term investments with the mission of the organization, AGU will emphasize Mission Related Investments (“MRI”) that include the following characteristics: Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) integration, thematic investments, transparency and women and minority owned or managed investments.
In a June 2022 communication with Scientists for Global Responsibility, executive director Randy Fiser confirmed:
To better align with our new strategic plan, which places a strong focus on a sustainable future, and to strengthen our commitment to mission-related investments, the AGU Board of Directors voted to entirely divest AGU’s portfolio of fossil fuels, starting October 2021. We recently announced this decision in a From the Prow post.

The post to which Fiser refers is the one having only the vaguely named video.

It remains unclear whether AGU has any policy or standard against accepting funding and sponsorships from fossil-fuel companies, the subject of massive protest from members in 2016. At the time, the board rejected member calls to sever its long-standing financial and promotional relationship with ExxonMobil. Although Exxon chose not to continue its sponsorship of the Fall Meeting student breakfasts, Chevron continued as a sponsor of Fall Meetings through 2019. No fossil-fuel companies were public sponsors for the 2020, 2021, or 2022 meetings.

At the 2022 fall meeting in December, AGU expelled climate scientists Rose Abramoff and Peter Kalmus for interrupting a plenary session with a call for their fellow AGU members to engage in more climate activism. AGU staff complained to Abramoff’s employer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, leading to her firing in January 2023.

Soccer in a Warming World Workshop

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 16 Nov 2022 18:00:00 GMT

Join the Columbia Climate School Office of Research and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for this hybrid, half-day workshop to address questions about how climate change will affect the way soccer is played, and the health and performance of soccer players worldwide.

Co-hosted by Co-Founding Dean for Research, Dr. Maureen Raymo and World Cup winning member of the US Women’s National Team, Samantha Mewis, this workshop will feature short talks from Columbia researchers, followed by small panel discussions and Q&A.

A light reception in the Monell Lobby will follow.

A Zoom link will be sent to virtual attendees approximately 24 hours prior to the event.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

Tickets are free: RSVP here.

Samantha Mewis is an American professional soccer player who currently plays as a midfielder for the KC Current of the NWSL and the United States Women’s National Team. Mewis is considered one of the best midfielders in the world, having won 3 NWSL titles, a FIFA World Cup and was named the #1 Player in the World by ESPNFC in 2021.

Climate on the 2022 Ballot

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Nov 2022 01:37:00 GMT


Prop 30, Tax on Income Above $2 Million for Zero-Emissions Vehicles and Wildfire Prevention Initiative

Proposition 30 would raise income taxes by 1.75% on Californians who make more than $2 million annually, spending 80% of the estimated $3.5 billion in yearly revenue on electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and rebates for EV purchases, and the remaining 20% on wildfire fighter hiring and training. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) would be directed to prioritize low-income Californians in allocating EV rebates.

California governor Gavin Newsom has decried Prop 30 as a “Trojan horse” initiative and cut an ad opposing it. Newsom’s argument points to Lyft’s substantial funding for the measure, motivated by its desire to have the wealthy subsidize its compliance with a new CARB rule requiring 90% of ride mileage to come from EVs by 2030. It’s a reasonable complaint, but curious coming from someone who was silent two years ago when Lyft spent millions to overturn a California labor law to stop misclassifying drivers.

With support from the California Democratic Party, many labor organizations, billionaire Tom Steyer, legislators like state senator Henry Stern and Rep. Ro Khanna, and environmental organizations, polls show Prop 30 in a pretty strong position to pass (albeit with gradually declining support). We will see if Prop 30’s support holds up against Newsom, the California Chamber of Commerce and Teachers Association, and scolding editorials from the San Jose Mercury News and the LA Times.


Amendment 1, Disregard Flood Resistance Improvements in Property Value Assessments Measure

If approved by 60% of voters, Amendment 1 would exempt expenditures on home flood resilience improvements from property tax value assessments. The measure is meant to encourage flood mitigation investments by Florida homeowners. One third of the 5 million policyholders in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) live in Florida, and 1.7 million Floridians live in an area that is subject to 100-year flood risk— a figure that is projected to grow considerably in the years ahead.

A long-term reauthorization of the NFIP is needed to modernize flood mapping, provide resources for flood mitigation, and expedite the buyout process for many Florida homeowners who really should relocate. But Congress has perpetually “kicked the can” down the road on NFIP reform. Although the Build Back Better Act included significant reforms, that died in the Senate. With the U.S. Congress failing to provide NFIP relief, a near-unanimous vote of the Florida legislature placed Amendment 1 on the ballot.

Lest we give Florida lawmakers too much credit, an emergency session in May utterly failed to address the climate-driven property insurance “meltdown” taking place there. Available reforms to make insurance more affordable, and shore up Florida’s state-funded reinsurance company by taxing corporations rather than individuals, were rejected.


Amendment 2: Temporary Property Tax Change for Disaster Areas Measure

Similar to Amendment 1 in Florida, Georgia’s Amendment 2 would allow temporary property tax relief for any homes that are damaged by climate disasters, if it receives approval from 2/3 of the voters. Georgia has among the most regressive and meager tax systems in the country.

New York

Proposal 1, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act

If approved, Proposal 1 would authorize $4.2 billion in general obligation bonds for projects dealing with climate change resilience, including wetlands restoration to mitigate sea level rise, heat pumps, electric buses, and other home energy upgrades. 35% of the bond revenue is required to be dedicated to disadvantaged communities. If passed, Prop 1 will be the first environmental bond act that New York voters have seen in 26 years. It was originally slated to be on the 2020 ballot, after former governor Andrew Cuomo pointed to reports citing mounting state infrastructure costs from climate change. After the pandemic caused the bond measure’s postponement, governor Kathy Hochul revived the effort last year, and called for an additional billion dollar in funding, which some legislators felt was still inadequate. The New York Public Interest Group suggested that the bond should follow the “polluter pay” model of past NY environmental bond measures and repeal fossil fuel subsidies, but those calls were not heeded.

Local Measures

Boulder, Colorado

County Issue 1A, 1B, and 1C: Wildfire Mitigation, Emergency Services, and Transportation Sales Taxes

The shocking Marshall Fire, powered by fossil-fueled climate change, ripped through suburban Boulder in December 2021. County Issues 1A, 1B, and 1C would raise county-wide 0.1% sales tax to raise $11 million each for wildfire mitigation, rural fire, mountain rescue, and ambulance services, and rural rapid transit, trails, and bicycle lanes respectively. The Yes On 1C coalition includes the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Action.

Boulder Daily Camera opinion editor Gary Garrison writes: “With the climate ever-changing and Boulder ever-growing, these taxes — wildfire mitigation, emergency services and continued transportation funding — are necessary.”

City Ballot Issues 2A and 2B, Climate Tax

Boulder City has a two-part ballot measure—Ballot Issue 2A and 2B—to expand its climate tax on fossil-fuel energy use from $6.5 million from $3.9 million and increase the share paid by businesses.

Jonathan Koehn, the director of Boulder’s Climate Initiatives Department, the director of Boulder’s Climate Initiatives Department explained the planned change:

: “When the original carbon tax was created in 2006, since that time, businesses have paid roughly one-third of the annual tax collections and they’re responsible for emitting roughly two-thirds of our community’s emissions. We’re really trying to true up that proportional impact in cost to make sure that the dollars collected are really going to those that are attributed to … emitting those emissions.”

El Paso, Texas

Proposition C, Renewable Energy and Efficiency Improvements Bond Measure

In order to fund its Climate Action Plan, El Paso’s Proposition C proposes a $5.2 million bond measure for renewable energy and resource use efficiency improvements and planning, the smallest of three bond measures on the El Paso ballot. The others are a $246.8 million bond measure for street improvements and $20.8 million bond measure for parks and recreation.

California Local

Local residents in Alpine County are hoping to prevent the construction of a biomass plant in this sparsely populated county on the Nevada border that is 96% national forest have gotten a measure on the ballot. County officials oppose Measure D.

Long Beach, California is proposing to merge its Gas and Oil Department with its Water Department into an Energy Resources Department; the new name will “better reflect the current global, State and local views regarding energy resources and climate change mitigation.”

Mono County Measure H and Siskiyou County Measure R will raise additional funds for the Antelope Valley Fire Protection District along the Nevada border and the Mount Shasta Fire Protection District, respectively. Mount Shasta, on the Oregon border, experienced a fast-growing wildfire last month.

Cloverdale, the last jurisdiction in Sonoma County that allows the sale of fireworks, has Measure K on the ballot to prohibit the practice, as global warming increases wildfire risks. Mayor Todd Lands blames recent Cloverdale fires on homeless people and is campaigning to protect fireworks sales.

The city of Watsonville, on Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz County, is voting on Measure Q to renew its Urban Limit Line, which protects the Pajaro Valley farmland and encourages urban infill. The smart growth rules were established in 2002 and renewed in 2013. The counter measure, Measure S, would allow for more development outside the current limits, and the competing camps are accusing each other of racism.

Berkeley’s Measure L is a $650 million bond measure that proponents say will help pay for climate projects, but it’s a non-earmarked general funding bond.

Boulder Creek’s Measure T for a $36 per parcel tax to fund parks and recreation includes “alternative green energy to power our public spaces.”

Honolulu, Hawaii

Charter Question 2 would require the city’s planning commission to “have at least one member with expertise or experience in (a) Native Hawaiian tradition, native Hawaiian law, and traditional Hawaiian land usage; (b) land use planning, policies, and principles; (c) land development and construction; and (d) climate change and sea level rise causes, effects, and solutions or environmental protection and preservation.”

Charter Question 3 proposes expanding the use of funds in the city’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund to allow expenditures for operation, maintenance, improvement, and management of lands acquired by the Fund.

Some Other Local Ballot Measures

Wayne County, Michigan, the home county of Detroit, is voting on the continuation of funding for its public transit system (SMART) through a 0.994 millage.

Carson City, Nevada’s Question 1 asks whether to continue the city’s five cents per gallon tax on diesel fuel for road maintenance.

Albuquerque, New Mexico has a bond measure for $25 million for the flood control system. Last year the region saw deadly flash floods, and this year it whipsawed from extreme drought to heavy rains.

King County, Washington Proposition 1 extends the Conservation Futures levy, a property tax that finances greenways, farmland, and wildlands.

WE ACT Gala 2022

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Oct 2022 22:00:00 GMT

Join WE ACT in celebrating this year’s achievements at our annual Gala! This festive evening will be our first in-person Gala since 2019!

Join us on Thursday, October 27th, from 6:00-9:00 PM at International House New York, for a night of honoring environmental justice champions and celebrating our ongoing work for a more equitable future.

Online Tickets are still available.

2022 Honorees
  • Dr. Beverly L. Wright, Founder and Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.
  • Jessica Ottney Mahar, New York Director of Policy & Strategy, The Nature Conservancy.
  • Mychal Johnson, Co-Founder, South Bronx Unite.
Sponsorship Levels
  • WE ACT Champion – $30,000
  • Frontline Warrior – $15,000
  • Climate Justice Advocate – $10,000
  • Environmental Justice Changemaker – $6,000

For more information about Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact Gianna Folz at [email protected] or 917-574-8241.

  • 1 Front Inside Cover 6”x 8” ($2,500)
  • Full Page Ads 6”x 8” ($1,750) * Half Page 6” x 4” ($1,250) * Quarter Page 3” x 4” ($750)

For more information, please contact Gianna Folz at [email protected] or 917-574-8241.

Power Up: A Climate Reality Training on Advocacy in Action

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Oct 2022 12:00:00 GMT

From October 27-28 in Houston, Texas – The Climate Reality Project and former Vice President Al Gore will host the first Power Up: A Climate Reality Training on Advocacy in Action for climate activists across the US Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast has been targeted for continued investments in oil and gas refineries and pipelines that bring the very worst health impacts to communities of color, low-income neighborhoods, and other communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis and the racial inequity crisis.

We are coming together to say enough is enough. Communities, social justice organizations, policymakers, and businesses in the Gulf South states are embracing climate solutions that support community resilience and promise a just transition to a clean energy economy that centers equity and prioritizes people over profits.

This free two-day training provides those ready to make a difference with the tools, knowledge, and networks to mobilize their communities and drive real action for climate justice solutions.

The training gives attendees an opportunity to learn about the current state of the climate crisis in the Gulf South, to hear directly from organizations leading on the frontlines of a just and equitable transition, and to build local power to advance climate solutions. The training will also highlight the work of inspiring local leaders from regional civil rights and environmental justice groups who are mobilizing their communities to fight against polluting industries and racial injustice.

Apply Now

Webinar: The Faith Voice at COP27

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Oct 2022 23:00:00 GMT

This November, IPL will be present as an observer organization at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to ensure that world leaders hear the moral voice as they debate strategies and ambitions to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change. Our witness is crucial, and we want to make sure that you’re up-to-date on the issues, understand how you can participate, and have a chance to ask your questions.

Please join us for our COP27 Webinar Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT to learn more about our goals at COP27 and how you can support the faith voice from home.

  • Rev. Susan Hendershot, IPL President
  • Gopal Patel, Director of Bhumi Global and IPL board member
  • Rev. Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care for the Episcopal Church and IPL board member
  • Bee Morehead, Executive Director, Texas Impact/Texas IPL

Soup and Sunflowers: Art & Climate Activism

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Oct 2022 18:00:00 GMT

Debate Panel:
  • Phoebe Plummer
  • Anna Holland
  • Jeremy Till
  • Lucy Orta
  • Timothy Morton
  • Clare Farrell


Spanish-Language Climate Disinformation Panel Discussion

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Oct 2022 14:00:00 GMT

GreenLatinos is honored to invite you to participate in a panel discussion on our most recent findings on Spanish-Language Climate Disinformation in our comunidad. This initiative seeks to share our research to understand how Spanish-Language Climate Disinformation is disseminated in our community, where it is coming from, and how we may counter it. We seek your attendance to serve as a guest and learn about this important topic. This event will occur on October 13, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET. The event will involve our partner, Graphika, who conducted the research, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Equis Research, and other Spanish-language disinformation experts. We hope you can attend! Can’t join us in person? RSVP to watch the webinar here!

Unidos US Conference Room, 1126 16th St NW Ste 600, Washington, DC 20036

GreenLatinos tiene el honor de invitarle a participar en un panel de discusión sobre nuestros hallazgos más recientes sobre la desinformación climática en español en nuestra comunidad. Esta iniciativa busca compartir nuestra investigación para comprender cómo se difunde la desinformación climática en español en nuestra comunidad, de dónde proviene y cómo podemos contrarrestarla. Solicitamos su asistencia para servir como invitado y conocer este importante tema. Este evento ocurrirá el 13 de octubre de 2022 a las 10:00 a. m. ET. El evento contará con la participación de nuestro socio, Graphika, que realizó la investigación, la Unión de Científicos Preocupados, Equis Research y otros expertos en desinformación en español. ¡Esperamos que puedas asistir! ¿No puedes unirte a nosotros en persona? ¡Regístrate aquí para ver el seminario web aquí!

PROMESA and LUMA Energy’s Contract (Postponed)

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 22 Sep 2022 14:00:00 GMT

The Committee on Natural Resources Office of Insular Affairs will hold a hybrid oversight hearing on “PROMESA and LUMA Energy’s Contract.” Scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, in room 1324 Longworth House Office Building and via Cisco Webex, the hearing has been postponed because of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Fiona.

The hearing will feature testimony from key stakeholders regarding the implementation of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and discuss H.R. 7409TRUST for Puerto Rico Act to dissolve the Oversight Board. The hearing will also examine LUMA Energy’s contract to manage, operate, and rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric power transmission and distribution system.


Panel I: PROMESA and H.R. 7409
  • Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico
  • José Luis Dalmau, President, Puerto Rico Senate
  • Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, Speaker, Puerto Rico House of Representatives
  • David A. Skeel Jr, Chair, Financial Oversight and Management Board
  • Jessica E. Méndez-Colberg, Attorney, Bufete Emmanuelli, C.S.P.
  • Cecille Blondet, Executive Director, Espacios Abiertos
  • Maryln Goyco-García, Puerto Rico Campaign Coordinator, Center for Popular Democracy
Panel II: LUMA Energy’s Contract
  • Fermín Fontanés, Executive Director, Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority
  • Josué Colón, Executive Director, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
  • Edison Avilés-Deliz, Chair, Puerto Rico Energy Bureau
  • Wayne Stensby, President & CEO, LUMA Energy Corporation
  • Ruth Santiago, Attorney & Environmental Policy Expert
  • Ingrid Vila Biaggi, President, CAMBIO

Reflections on Hurricanes Maria + Harvey & the Road to Recovery

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 Sep 2022 17:00:00 GMT

Over a million Puerto Ricans remain without electricity following Hurricane Fiona. For a timely conversation, join a Twitter space — hosted by Climate Nexus and the Energy Democracy Project — for Reflections on Hurricanes Maria + Harvey & the Road to Recovery.

  • Johanna Bozuwa, Climate and Community Project
  • Ruth Santiago, Comité Diálogo Ambiental
  • Arturo Massol-Deyá, Casa Pueblo
  • Sandra Edwards, Coalition for Environment, Equity and Resilience
  • Dr. Brett Perkison, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston School of Public Health

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