The dominoes are starting to fall on fossil fuel divestment in Massachusetts. Last week, the Framingham Town Meeting approved a resolution urging town managers to divest town funds from fossil fuels. Concord and Sudbury voted in favor of similar resolutions earlier this month. Eight towns in Massachusetts have now voted in favor of divestment, more than in any other state.
Each of these victories is a milestone in its own way. Framingham is one of the largest and most diverse towns to divest, while the vote in Concord carries symbolic weight: no doubt Emerson and Thoreau would be cheered to see their hometown leading the nation once again.
The victories don’t stop there. The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence and the First Religious Society of Newburyport both voted to divest earlier this week. Faith communities all over Massachusetts have already divested, including the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and various Unitarian churches.
Over the past two years, fossil fuel divestment has grown from a struggling effort on a handful of liberal college campuses into something that’s practically mainstream. There are hundreds of divestment campaigns all over the country. Dozens of colleges, cities and religious institutions have sold their oil, coal, and gas stocks. Divestment is now discussed regularly in the national media. Even Obama is on board.
Here in Massachusetts, the fossil fuel divestment victories come at a critical time. The state legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 1225, which would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels. The Joint Public Service Committee faces a June 30th deadline for moving the bill out of committee, but legislators will need to act sooner than that for the bill to pass during this legislative session.
Better Future Project / 350 Massachusetts has been leading the divestment effort in Massachusetts, and we’re finding that the excitement just keeps growing. Hundreds of activists all over the state are pushing to pass S. 1225 and leading divestment efforts in their communities. As the planet warms, we’re going to keep turning up the heat.
The writer is the Communications Coordinator for Better Future Project / 350 Massachusetts.