|Purpose||cut CO2 emissions and build a global movement for climate solutions|
350.org is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. It was founded by author Bill McKibben with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. 350.org takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.
350.org was founded by author Bill McKibben and a group of students from Middlebury College. McKibben is an American environmentalist and writer who wrote one of the first books on global warming for the general public, and frequently writes about climate change, alternative energy, and the need for more localized economies.
The organizing effort drew its name from NASA climate scientist James Hansen's contention that any atmospheric concentration of CO2 above 350 parts per million was unsafe. James Hansen opined that "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that." Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, rose by 2.6 parts per million to 396 ppm in 2013 from the previous year (annual global averages). It already crossed 400 ppm in May 2012 on monitors in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere's Arctic region.
McKibben first started to organize against climate change with a walk across Vermont, his home state. His "Step It Up" campaign in 2007 involved 1,400 demonstrations at famous sites across the United States. McKibben credits these activities with making Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama change their energy policies during the presidential campaign. Starting in 2008, 350.org built upon the "Step It Up" campaign and made it into a global organization.
Rajendra Pachauri, the UN's "top climate scientist" and leader of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come out, as have others, in favor of reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 ppm. McKibben called news of Pachauri's embrace of the 350ppm target "amazing". Some media have indicated that Pachauri's endorsement of the 350 ppm target was a victory for 350.org's activism.
The organization had a lift in prominence after McKibben appeared on The Colbert Report television show on Monday August 17, 2009. McKibben promotes the organization on speaking tours and by writing articles about it for many major newspapers and media, such as the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.
The 350.org movement considers the atmospheric concentration 350ppm of CO2 as a safe upper limit. This limit was the focus a 2009 COP15 international treaty. 350.org's goal is to have governments adopt policies to lower carbon dioxide emissions. In spite of this goal, "[i]n 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history." 350.org reports: "This March , global levels of CO2 passed 400 parts per million."
350.org aims to build a global, grassroots movement to take on the fossil fuel industry and solve the climate crisis. Through online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions, 350.org has mobilized thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.
Climate safety and climate justice for people across the globe is a critical part of 350.org's mission. By working with local community groups, 350.org aims to hold corporations and world leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of social justice.
Science of 350
350 parts per million is what scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. In May 2013, two independent teams of scientists measuring CO2 near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii recorded that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million, probably for the first time in more than 3 million years of Earth history. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to rise at about 2 ppm every year.
2 °C (3.6 °F) was agreed upon during the 2009 Copenhagen Accord as a limit for global temperature rise. The accord formally recognized "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius." The next paragraph declared that "we agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required... so as to hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees Celsius." In order to stay below a 2 degree increase, scientists have estimated that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. At present emission rates, (31 gigatons globally in 2011 and rising) 565 gigatons will be reached by 2028.
Fossil-fuel companies currently have about 2,795 gigatons of carbon already contained in their proven coal and oil and gas reserves, and is the amount of fossil fuels they are currently planning to burn. 2,795 gigatons is five times higher than the limit of 565 gigatons that would keep Earth under a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius.
Campaigns and projects
Keystone XL pipeline
350.org has named the Keystone XL pipeline as a critical issue and turning point for the environmental movement, as well as for President Obama's legacy. NASA climatologist James Hansen labeled the Keystone XL pipeline as "game over" for the planet, and called the amount of carbon stored in Canadian bitumen sands a "fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet."
350.org cites oil spills along the proposed pipeline route, which would pass near Texas' Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 12 million people. It could also pose danger to the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in western North America that supplies drinking water and irrigation to millions of people and agricultural businesses. 350.org has opposed the economic argument that has been made by proponents of the pipeline, arguing that Keystone XL would create only a few thousand temporary jobs during construction. The State Department estimated that ultimately the pipeline will create 35 permanent jobs.
Contrary to oil industry claims, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has said that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase gas prices instead of lowering them. The NRDC's study also refutes the claim that the pipeline will lead to energy independence, because the pipeline will carry tar sands from Canada to Texas which will then be sold on the global market.
Partly due to efforts from 350.org and other organizations, President Obama officially rejected the building of Keystone XL on November 6, 2015. This marked the end of a seven-year review on the pipeline. Speaking on the decision, Bill McKibben said, “President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate. That gives him new stature as an environmental leader, and it eloquently confirms the five years and millions of hours of work that people of every kind put into this fight.”
Fossil fuel divestment
350.org launched their "Go Fossil Free: Divest from Fossil Fuels!" campaign in 2012 with Bill McKibben's "Do The Math" speaking tour around the country. The campaign calls for colleges and universities, as well as cities, religious institutions, and pension funds to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies. 350.org explains that the reasoning behind this campaign is simple: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage." 350.org states their demand as the following "We want institutions to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years."
There are currently fossil fuel divestment campaigns at 308 colleges and universities, 105 cities and states, and 6 religious institutions. As of July 2013, six colleges and universities (San Francisco State University, Hampshire, College, Unity College, Sterling College, College of the Atlantic, and Green Mountain College) have committed to fossil fuel divestment. Seventeen cities (Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; Eugene, OR; Berkeley, CA; Richmond, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Boulder, CO; Santa Fe, NM; Madison, WI; Bayfield, WI; State College, PA; Ithaca, NY; Truro, MA; Provincetown, MA; Providence, RI; and Cambridge, MA) have made commitments to divest. Twelve religious institutions (United Church of Christ – National, Massachusetts United Church of Christ, Minnesota United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oregon, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Cambridge, MA, Portsmouth South Church Unitarian, First Unitarian Church of Pittsfield, ME, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Uniting Church, New South Wales & ACT, Australia, Dover Friends Meeting, Dover, NH, Melbourne Unitarian Church, Australia) have also committed to fossil fuel divestment.
Do The Math movie
The Do The Math movie is a 42-minute documentary film about the rising movement to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis and challenge the fossil fuel industry. The math revolves around these three numbers: to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of global warming we can emit only 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide versus the 2,795 gigatons held in proven reserves by fossil fuel corporations. This warming rise was agreed to in the 2009 Copenhagen Summit as a limit. NASA scientist James Hansen says "2 degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster."
Global Power Shift
Phase 1 of Global Power Shift was a convergence in Istanbul, Turkey in June 2013 of about five-hundred climate organizers from 135 countries. Stated objectives include sharing and developing skills to organize movements, building upon existing plans to organize in-country Power Shift events after the kickoff event in Turkey, building political alignment and a clear theory of change, sharing experiences from different countries, formulating strategies to overcome challenges, and building relationships to strengthen regional and international cooperation and collaboration.
Phase 2 of Global Power Shift involves the organizers who were in Turkey in June 2013 to bring home what they learned to organize summits, events, and mobilizations.
350.org launched the Summer Heat campaign in the Summer of 2013, and was a wave of mass mobilizations across the country. Summer Heat actions took place at eleven locations: Richmond, CA; Vancouver, WA; Green River, UT; Albuquerque, NM; Houston, TX; St. Ignace, MI; Warren, OH; Washington, D.C.; Camp David, MD; Somerset, MA; and Sebago Lake, ME. Participants included grassroots organizers, labor unions, farmers, ranchers, environmental justice groups, and others. The slogan that was used for the Summer Heat campaign was: As The Temperature Rises, So Do We.
International Day of Climate Action
An "International Day of Climate Action" on October 24, 2009, was organized by 350.org to influence the delegates going to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in December, 2009 (COP15). This was the first global campaign ever organized around a scientific data point. The actions organised by 350.org included gigantic depictions of the number "350", walks, marches, rallies, teach-ins, bike rides, sing-a-thons, carbon-free dinners, retrofitting houses to save energy, tree plantings, mass dives at the Great Barrier Reef, solar-cooked bake-outs, churches bell ringings, underwater cabinet meetings (Maldives), and armband distributions to athletes. The organization reported that over 5,200 synchronized demonstrations occurred in 181 countries on the day. The group reports that they organised the world's "most widespread day of political action" on Saturday October 24, 2009, reporting 5,245 actions in 181 countries.
10/10/10 Global Work Party
As a follow-up to 2009's International Day of Climate Action, 350.org and the 10:10 Climate Campaign joined to help coordinate another global day of action which occurred on October 10, 2010. The 2010 campaign was focused on concrete actions that can be taken locally to help combat climate change. Actions from tree-plantings to solar panel installations to huge electricity service-provider switching parties occurred in almost every country around the world.
Connect the Dots 5 May 2012
The organization's efforts continued into 2012 with a planned May 5 worldwide series of rallies under the slogan "Connect the Dots," to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather. Per the 350.org website the day is called Climate Impacts Day.
People's Climate March
350 helped organize the People's Climate March, which took place on September 21, 2014.
Apart from special events, 350.org organizes actions on an ongoing basis to promote its message. These activities include tree plantings (350 trees in each instance) for biosequestration, promoting the term "350", publishing adverts in major newspapers calling for the target level of carbon dioxide to be lowered to 350ppm, conducting polls on the subject of climate change, educating youth leaders, lobbying governments on the issue of carbon targets, and joining a campaign to establish a .eco top-level domain or "tld". In December 2009, the group petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency to set national limits for greenhouse gases using the Clean Air Act, asking the agency to cap atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 350 parts per million. The organization created and distributed a time-lapse video showing the recent retreat of Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, graphically depicting the impacts of warming climates. On President's Day, February 18, 2013, it is co-organizing a national day of action to call on President Obama to address climate change.
350.org claims alliance with 300 organizations around the world and has enlisted "350 messengers" who have publicly allied themselves with the organization or its goal to spread the 350 movement, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alex Steffen, Bianca Jagger, David Suzuki, and Colin Beavan.
1Sky merged into 350.org in 2011.
Naomi Klein (author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate) is a member of the board of directors of 350.org.
- 10:10 (climate change campaign)
- 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference
- Air pollution reduction efforts
- Climate change mitigation
- Climate change policy of the United States
- Climate Reality Project
- Conservation (ethic)
- Criticism of non-governmental organizations
- Environmental movement
- Individual and political action on climate change
- List of environmental issues
- Politics of global warming
- Stern Review
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 350.org.|
- Official website
- Photos of 350.org activities on Flickr.
- Check the current level of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere
- "350 and counting". Haaretz. Retrieved September 15, 2009.