Welcome to 350 Roaring Fork!
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What we do
We are the local chapter of 350 Colorado, the state’s largest grassroots organization building the mass movement to demand climate justice and an end to the fossil fuel era. Scientists have been warning about catastrophic climate change for decades but political leaders have utterly failed in addressing it and now, here in the West, we are experiencing the dire effects of wildfires, drought, heat waves and shorter winters even sooner and more intensely than predicted.
The inconvenient truth is that the fossil fuel industry and their friends on Wall Street have a stranglehold over the political process. For that reason, the climate movement is now working to undermine these powerful interests, wielding the tool of divestment—one dollar, one investor, one fund, at a time.
Globally, funds totaling $14 trillion dollars have pledged not to loan money to coal, oil and gas interests. Universities and colleges, foundations, pension funds, faith groups, cities and counties, even the nation of Ireland and Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, have divested from fossil fuels. In June, the state of Maine committed to divesting.
In their 2017 Annual Report, Shell Oil admitted divestment was impacting their borrowing costs. Due to years of campaigning from 350.org and others, Chase Bank finally announced carbon neutrality by 2050, in both their operations and that of their clients. (However, Chase still remains the #1 bank financier of fossil fuels).
Divestment, paired with increased regulation, lawsuits and the falling cost of renewable energy, is hurting the fossil fuel companies. Exxon and Chevron both revised downward the value of their oil fields by billions of dollars in 2020. After nearly a century as one of the largest corporations in the world, Exxon fell out of the Dow Jones stock index last year. Oil, gas and coal stocks are declining rapidly. Investors are flocking to fossil free funds.
350 Roaring Fork is working on three fronts:
- Municipal Divestment
- Local Climate Solutions
- State Climate Policy
In January, we compelled the Aspen City Council to revisit their investment policy and “roll off” their bonds in Berkshire Hathaway, with its large coal and gas holdings. We are still urging Aspen to divest their Wells Fargo Bank bonds and to pass a resolution against owning fossil fuel assets. (Sign our Aspen divestment petition here!)
We are now calling on Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, New Castle, Basalt and Snowmass to ask their investment pool to divest from Exxon and Chevron (Sign our Divest C-SAFE petition here). Our five municipalities are among the more than 400 municipalities and school districts who belong to the Colorado Secure Assets Fund Trust (https://csafe.org/), an investment pool designed to earn modest income for smaller governments and districts. A mere 1% of C-SAFE’s CORE Fund is Exxon and Chevron bonds and earn lower yields than most other bonds in the fund.
Our taxpayer funds should not be used to support two primary companies responsible for the climate crisis. It also provides us a valuable opportunity to join the list of funds worldwide ($14 trillion and growing) turning the screws on the fossil fuel industry. Colleges and universities, pension funds, foundations, faith groups and, yes, cities and counties, are refusing to invest in companies still plundering coal, oil and gas deposits and cooking our climate. C-SAFE owns $24 million in Exxon and Chevron bonds, about 1% of their $2 billion “CORE” fund. (For comparison, we succeeded in convincing the City of Denver to shed their $180 million in Chevron bonds, which made up 1.5% of their portfolio).
Our five municipalities could lead the way, inspiring other Colorado communities to insist C-SAFE divest. Each fund that announces divestment is a headline bringing attention to the myriad ways the financial system props up the fossil fuel industry. Each headline is a drumbeat of bad publicity for an industry already in decline due to falling demand, cheaper renewables and pro-climate government policies. (The State of Maine, Amherst College and New York State’s Public Pension, the third largest pension fund in the country, are three recent converts. See also our ongoing campaign to divest Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Account, or PERA, of its $1.5 billion in fossil fuel assets.)
Local Climate Solutions
State Climate Policy
A few of the major accomplishments of the 350 Roaring Fork Team include:
- Compelling the City of Aspen to divest their $3.1 million in Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company of coal power plants and gas pipeline builders and operators.
- Hosting the Carbondale Youth Climate Strike in September of 2019 which brought hundreds of community members together for climate action.
- Organizing testimony and travel to hearings at the Garfield County Commissioners, COGCC, AQCC, CDPHE, and legislative hearings in Glenwood Springs, Denver, Rifle, and Grand Junction.
- Educating hundreds of community members through documentary screenings, workshops, and tabling at local events, and farmers markets.
- Standing up against fossil fuel projects by gathering thousands of signatures for state ballot initiatives and rallying support to stand with impacted communities in Battlement Mesa & Paonia.
- Publishing dozens of LTE’s/OP-Eds on climate issues in local and state news outlets
- We supported fellow organizations working to protect the Roaring Fork Valley
- We marched, demonstrated, attended meetings, wrote letters and postcards, called our representatives and defended Mother Earth in every way we could think of!