Bill McKibben, chair and founder of climate change activist group 350.org, received a Right Livelihood Award – sometimes called the “alternative Nobel Prize” – from the Swedish Parliament earlier this week. After receiving the honor, McKibben donated his prize money to 350 and announced that he would be stepping down from his position as chair of the organization.
“…[N]o one should run a board forever,” wrote McKibben in a blog post on 350.org, “and so I think it’s time someone else should be engaged in that particular task, leaving me more energy and opportunity for figuring out strategies and organizing campaigns.”
McKibben is not abandoning the group altogether and said he will continue to fight for climate change awareness.
“I will stay on as an active member of the board, and 90% of my daily work will stay the same, since it’s always involved the external work of campaigning, not the internal work of budgets and flow charts. I’m not standing down from that work, or stepping back or walking away. Just the opposite.”
“We’ve built a movement, that’s the key thing,” wrote McKibben. “And it’s beginning to make a dent – by the time that [The People’s Climate March] was over (and remember that it ended with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announcing their divestment from fossil fuels), I was letting myself think that we’d seen the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel industry.”
McKibben admits that while the Rockefeller divestment was a step in the right direction, it wasn’t a victory in getting rid of the reliance on fossil fuels.
“Unless that end to coal and oil and gas comes swiftly, the damage from global warming will overwhelm us,” he wrote. “Winning too slowly is the same as losing, so we have a crucial series of fights ahead: divestment, fracking, Keystone, and many others that we don’t know about yet.”
“2014 will be the hottest year in the planet’s history,” said McKibben. “[T]hat means we have to make 2014 the politically hottest season the fossil fuel industry has ever come up against, and 2016 after that, and…”
Given that the GOP has regained control of both houses of Congress, 350.org and those fighting against the fossil fuel industry have a tough road ahead.