wow betterWhat are you doing the day after Thanksgiving? Hiking? Sleeping? Entertaining turkey-stuffed family and friends? How about joining in a celebration of our gorgeous planet? On the eve of historic international climate talks in Paris, come join a bunch of heartfelt humans for Wonder Of The World. 

Wonder Of The World is an evening of stories, poetry, songs, and art, all in honor of the little blue ball we call home. With Khadija Bangoura, Arthur Blackhawk, Kathryn Blume, Bruce Campbell, Gideon Commey, Jordan Gullikson, Mashobane Miruthane, Winnie Looby and the spunky bar band Yanks In The Attic. Plus a special guest appearance by Bill McKibben. Directed by Mark Nash.

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Fossil Fuel Investments Cost the Vermont Pension Fund Millions


New analysis of the Vermont pension funds and other large funds shows high costs of not divesting from fossil fuels

Investments in fossil fuel companies have severely hurt the financial performance of pensions for Vermont’s teachers, state and municipal employees, according to a new investment tool created to assess carbon risk. Today, 350Vermont, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Clean Yield Asset Management announced the results of a new tool applied to the $4.02 billion combined pension fund managed by the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) for over 40,000 retirees and active workers. The tool revealed that VPIC’s investments in the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies cost Vermont pension holders more than $77 million1 in reduced returns over the past three years.

“We have urged VPIC to divest from the fossil fuel industry on moral and financial grounds for the last three years,” said Maeve McBride from 350Vermont. “Now we have proof that divestment would have financially benefited pension holders.

The new analytical tool, Decarbonizer, was developed by Corporate Knights, together with and South Pole Group. Decarbonizer is an interactive tool that shows how divesting from carbon-heavy companies in a portfolio could affect its financial performance. The Vermont pension fund was analyzed along with 13 other prominent funds, including the Gates Foundation and the Canada Pension Plan, totaling $1 trillion in assets. The analysis estimated the potential financial impact had the funds shifted their investments in October 2012 from the most carbon heavy coal and oil companies2, as well as coal-intensive utilities3 to companies that derive at least 20% of their revenues from environmental markets or new energy4. The 14 funds experienced a scale of losses over the past three years exceeding $22 billion.

“This study points out the flawed arguments that VPIC has made for continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies, namely the unfounded assertion that divesting would reduce returns of the funds and hurt beneficiaries. Over the past three years just the opposite has been true, to the tune of more than $77 million,” stated Eric Becker of Clean Yield Asset Management. “Further, the tool shows that had VPIC divested from the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies, the risk profile of the portfolio would have been virtually unchanged.”

In July, VPIC heard expert testimony on the improved performance of fossil fuel free investing, yet they voted unanimously to reject fossil fuel divestment, in whole or in part, because it was inconsistent with VPIC’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy. The Vermont General Assembly is considering both binding legislation that would require VPIC to divest out of the top 200 carbon polluters over five years, as well as a Joint Resolution urging VPIC to do so.

“We now know that maintaining investments in climate change’s worst offenders isn’t just bad environmental policy, it’s bad financial policy,” said Nate Hausman, the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Energy Committee Chair. “Divesting our state’s pension fund from fossil fuels will pay dividends to Vermont’s pension holders and to future generations of Vermonters alike. As a state, it’s high time we put our money where our mouth is on climate action.”

“The impact of climate change will be a major investment theme in the next decade and investors who are at the forefront of addressing risks, such as stranded assets in their portfolio construction and security selection process, should be the beneficiaries of stronger long-term risk adjusted performance,” said Christopher Ito, Chief Executive Officer of Fossil Free Indexes.

While this analysis focused on the past three years, dating to the launch of the fossil fuel divestment movement, other analyses over a ten year period byMSCI andFossil Free Indexes also found fossil free portfolios outperformed.

“As a beneficiary of the Vermont pension, I want my pension invested in a sustainable future, not in reckless and corrupt companies that are wrecking the planet,” said K.C. Whiteley, a retired state employee. “Most beneficiaries have no idea that we’ve each lost roughly $1800 of our retirement savings in the last three years because of these risky fossil fuel investments.”

The period of analysis coincides with a tough market for oil and commodity prices, and it is possible that over the next few years, some oil stocks and even coal utilities could partially recover. However, when considering the long-term, many investors recognize the increasingly tenuous business case for remaining heavily invested in carbon intensive industries, as outlined by the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney. In failing to divest, institutions risk under-exposure to $3 trillion of public equities positioned to benefit from a more resource efficient and expanding low carbon economy.

Vermont : Explain Yourself

Solar photo

By Gideon Commey

I  entered Reagan National Airport like a cow in a china shop, guileless. The airport is small but so choked with travellers that I was literally dehydrated after the long check-in which was a mission indeed. But as soon as the aircraft kissed the tarmac, dancing on the Burlington runway, I was invigorated. Minutes before landing, while dangling in the sky, I had been greeted by the lush green landscape and then upon disembarking, the joy of seeing solar panels sitting on roof tops. Incredibly green, progressive Vermont!

I didn’t really have much expectations coming to the Green Mountain State for my four months Community Solutions Fellowship with 350Vermont, but at this stage, I had figured out many more. First impression they say is the last impression, mine was everlasting. Having received a warming welcome by my amazing community mentor and 350Vermont volunteers organizer Brittany Dunn, I ushered into my first week in Burlington. Hoping that through adventure and glorious serendipity, Vermont will explain itself.

My first weekend was spent at the Farmers Market at the City Hall Park, an indoor local farmers market providing the community with producer grown and produced products. What made me tick about the farmers market was the fact that food items on display were locally grown and the powerful sense of community and belonging expressed by the people who thronged the space to interact and buy. The closest inspiration of a community market back in Ghana that I have visited is the Accra Green Market. What an amazing experience it was visiting with the team from our organization Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) within the last two years.

The first Sunday was spent at the Unitarian Universalist Church. As a devout Christian and an activist, it was truly a humbling experience communing with people from all walks of life, conscious about social and environmental justice and are either people of faith or are finding their own path. But maybe, the ‘kairos moment’ was rather the photo moment — in front of the Church’s incredible parking lot inundated with solar panels, the largest solar infrastructure I have ever seen on a parking lot. It wasn’t just progressive and impressive, it was inspiring and transforming.

I didn’t have to ask for more in my first week in Vermont before it got delivered. Meeting JT Lukens, a Solar Community Organizer at SunCommon presented an in-depth insight into the solar friendly policies in the state, coupled with the financing strategies driving the solar revolution in Vermont. It was also indeed a great opportunity to share the Ghanaian renewable energy journey, challenges and potentials, as well as the work we are doing with Solar People in Ghana with an amazing and passionate team of  young entrepreneurs, technicians and marketers to promote the solar technology.

There is definitely more to Vermont that I haven’t experienced so far in Burlington. I hope to travel more to Montpelier to meet non-profit organizations; attend conferences on solar energy; eat more sandwiches to fatten me up a little; get the attention of Juniper, my housemate’s dog to take a photo with me. And in the course of this adventure, if I face any conundrum, I won’t hesitate to yell, Vermont: explain yourself!

Stop the Oil Trains!

Stop Oil Trains Week of Action, Burlington, VT 7-6-15 and Ticonderoga, NY 7-7-15

Blog post, photos and video (link at bottom of post) by Arthur Hynes 

Lac Megantic Vigil at Burlington's Waterfront Park

Lac Megantic Vigil at Burlington’s Waterfront Park

On July 6, the 2nd anniversary of the Lac Mégantic Disaster, a group from of us from 350VT gathered to commemorate the tragic event in which 47 people lost their lives in an inferno explosion. We had a small but very visible vigil on the lakefront in Burlington and very close to train tracks that carry oil — but not yet fracked oil — through Vermont. We displayed signs and held candles in solidarity with Lac Mégantic, QC and in coordination with other events in the US and Canada, including a large rally across the lake in Plattsburgh, NY. In Burlington and in Plattsburgh the names of the 47 victims were read aloud.

On July 7 a group of us gathered at the Shoreham, VT boat launch and set forth across Lake Champlain in about 15 boats to join a spirited rally in Ticonderoga, NY to stop the bomb trains that run very close to Lake Champlain. The rally was joined by speakers from NY, Vermont and Massachusetts and members of the Bread and Puppet Circus who entertained us with music and a cantestoria. We then walked a short ways to the Ticonderoga Amtrak station where we took over the train tracks and station in a symbolic protest for 47 minutes in commemoration of the 47 murder victims in Lac Mégantic, QC.


The Flotilla crossing Lake Champlain

The Flotilla crossing Lake Champlain


Rally at Ticonderoga

Rally at Ticonderoga

Through a brief rainstorm we sang and talked and honored all the victims of fossil fuel destruction and disasters. There were a number of police and security personnel present but no arrests. We heard reports of 2 coordinated actions nearby that did result in arrests. After a closing ceremony the rally ended and the boaters headed back to Vermont in beautiful afternoon light. To see a video of the event click here.

Summer of Solidarity Week of Action

by Taylor Cook and Sarah Vukelich

Many roadblocks on the path to justice share the same underlying systemic causes. A just future is a future free from racism, sexism, classism, environmental destruction, patriarchy, white supremacy, transphobia, ableism, heterosexism, and all other forms of oppression. Acknowledging the need for collaboration to address these systems and the strength of their intersections, 350Vermont, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, ​Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante, Rising Tide Vermont, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Vermont Center for Independent Living, Vermont Workers’ Center, together comprising the Vermont Human Rights Council, have come together with a shared vision for a future of justice, equity, and liberation and have launched the Summer of Solidarity Week of Action.

photo 1 (11)

UVM Medical Center Board of Trustees Meeting

Yesterday, nurses at the UVM medical center delivered a presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting demanding a fair contract and the respect they deserve as professionals on the front lines of patient care. Over 60 nurses and community members flooded the meeting room in support. Today their campaign continued with the  “Honk and Wave for Safe Staffing” on Colchester Avenue across from the UVM Medical Center. UVM’s nurses worked 47,408 overtime hours last year. Changes must be made to in order for our nurses to safely provide excellent patient care.

On Saturday, Migrant Justice will have a national day of action at Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops in 14 cities across the country to demonstrate the support behind the grassroots movement Milk with Dignity. Vermont dairy workers face abominable working and housing conditions: 12-14 hour days, wage theft, and avoidable workplace injuries. The Milk with Dignity Program was created to ensure that dairy farms support the human rights of workers, and as pressure mounts, hopefully Ben and Jerry’s will become the first corporation to sign on to the campaign.

Both the nurses’ fight for a fair contract and Migrant Justice’s campaign are struggles for basic human dignity and justice, and we must consider them central to our struggle as people who care about climate justice.


Photo by Michael Shrader

Finally, on June 22-23 the campaign against the fracked gas pipeline reaches a critical moment, as the Vermont Public Service Board is about to hold the final technical hearings to decide whether to reevaluate Vermont Gas’s permits to build the pipeline. The pipeline poses a serious threat to communities across the state, and thousands of Vermonters–ratepayers, landowners, and concerned citizens–have fought, rallied, and organized for over two years to stop it. Our vision for the future does not include an industry that relies fundamentally on the unjust exploitation of people and our planet. The construction of the VT Gas pipeline would result in the largest build of fossil fuel infrastructure Vermont has seen in 50 years. Organized by a coalition that includes 350Vermont, Rising Tide Vermont, and Just Power, hundreds of protesters will gather in Montpelier on the days of the hearing, June 22-23, for a rally at 4 p.m. followed by speeches, performances, and an all-night vigil and encampment.

Tonight, June 19th from 8:30-10:00pm at the Unitarian Church on 152 Pearl Street in Burlington, there will a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Charleston massacre.

We are surrounded with constant reminders of the violent ways systems of oppression manifest. We can no longer ignore the systems that underlie the injustices we face. It is crucial that we all stand together now, and always, as we take action. This is bigger than any person, group, or cause: this is a movement. To make a difference, we must stand together in solidarity. We hope you join us!


In the belly of the beast…

On Wednesday, May 27 in Dallas, Treasurer Beth Pearce spoke in support of a shareholder proposal at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting that called for the fossil fuel giant to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. During the meeting, ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerman mocked renewable energy and minimized the effects that climate change is already having on millions of people worldwide.


In April, under pressure from the divestment movement, the Treasurer’s Office released a report outlining its coalition work with other institutional investors working to combat climate change. Much of this work is impressive, and importantly, most of it can continue full steam ahead even when the state divests.


While the Treasurer’s objectives in Dallas are laudable, asking the third largest company in the world to go out of business is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done. Until they change course and support state divestment out of fossil fuels, VPIC and the Treasurer are pursuing a policy that will ultimately saddle pension beneficiaries with greater risk and less return.


Existing ExxonMobil gasfield in Papua New Guinea

Existing ExxonMobil gasfield in Papua New Guinea

The meeting began with a summary of the company’s accomplishments and ambitions. They included a photo of a fracking site in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. They showed all of the recent land acquisitions globally for new fossil fuel extractions. They boasted of being able to extract oil from “extremely challenging environments,” like the Artic and tar sands. It was a sad day for the planet, for women, and for workers. You can listen to the meeting here.

At the meeting, several shareholder resolutions were presented, including one on climate change, equal pay & benefits for women, and transparency in lobbying.


Sister Pat Daly introduced the resolution on capping greenhouse gas emissions, and she has been engaging at shareholder meetings since 1997. She spoke on behalf of 45 institutional investors, including the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC). She insisted that many shareholders are requesting transparency with Exxon’s climate change policies and asking the company to become an integrated and low carbon company.


Beth Pearce provided the only comment on the GHG resolution. She indicated that public pension fund investors, like VPIC, are more and more concerned with climate change. She said that she wanted to see ExxonMobil excel in a carbon-constrained economy. She mentioned the climate change impacts that Vermont is feeling – impacts to maple syrup, skiing industry, and our rivers. “Climate change poses real financial risks…and requires a strategic shift,” Pearce said, because the current strategy is “wholly inadequate” to address climate change.


Sadly, though unsurprisingly, the resolution failed miserably. Only 9.6% of shareholders voted for the resolution. Last year, a similar proposal brought in over 20%.


With the climate clock ticking ever more quickly, many climate advocates are urging a better alternative: divestment from fossil fuel stocks. To avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, most reserves of coal, oil, and gas must stay underground. Divestment poses a direct threat to the companies, like ExxonMobil, fueling climate change. Fortunately, due to rising social and regulatory pressure, fossil fuel companies may soon be forced to keep reserves underground. When that happens, stockholders will be left with stranded assets – trillions of dollars in overvalued reserves of coal, oil, and gas that will be rendered valueless when the carbon bubble bursts.


In response to these risks, there have been several large divestments over recent months. Last September, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced their divestment from fossil fuel companies. In February, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund worth $850 billion, removed 114 fossil fuel companies from its holdings. On May 1, the Church of England announced that it had divested from coal and tar sands. Last week, the huge insurance company Axa said that it was removing $386m of coal investments from its portfolio. The “carbon bubble” is deflating, so the time to get out of fossil fuel investments is now.

Due to 350 Vermont’s urging at the May meeting, VPIC has begun looking into the financial effects coal divestment will (or won’t) have on the pension funds. VPIC member Karen Paul asked the Northeast Pension Consultants (NEPC) to compile a report on Vermont pension divestment from coal for the July meeting. 

Divesting from the largest fossil fuel companies is a win-win scenario for Vermonters. Pension-holders’ retirement funds would be more prudently managed, and the state would no longer undermine its own efforts to reduce dangerous carbon emissions by financing the fossil fuel companies.

350VT Coordinator Maeve McBride “really didn’t think she could stomach [ExxonMobil’s] meeting” – it was that bad. 350 Vermont and our allies are leading a campaign to urge VPIC and the Treasurer to divest our pension funds, rather than wasting time on futile shareholder engagement. But to change everything, we need everyone. If you would like to be involved, please email or



  Jillian MayerIMG_1125

  Divestment Organizer for 350VT

Bring Your Green Message to Boston…By Bicycle!

14467040409_9340865d02_oYou’re invited to join us on one of the Climate Rides! 350 Vermont is now a beneficiary and you can join one of these incredible bicycle rides or hikes to explore beautiful landscapes and have the time of your life, while supporting our work.  

Right now, we’re recruiting members for our new Team 350VT Climate Riders on this year’s Bar Harbor, Maine to Boston ride. You can be part of the fun and raise funds for 350VT at the same time. 350VT Coordinator Maeve McBride will be the Captain for Team 350VT, and she’s training already!

The Bar Harbor to Boston ride is a fully supported 5-day trip from September 17 – 21st. You will get simple overnight cabins or camping, three meals a day, a cycling jersey, and your bags will be transported from stop to stop.

carlaneimageParticipating in a Climate Ride event is an inspiring journey with a group of people who are united to support sustainability and protect our planet. Climate Ride also features an acclaimed nightly speaker series, known as the ‘green conference on wheels,’ where we hear from bright minds in policy, advocacy and innovation.

Anyone who has participated in Climate Ride raves about the tour as a ‘life-changing’ and ‘eye-opening’ experience. What is even better is that you can enjoy this great event, while at the same time helping to support 350VT’s mission. If you select us as your beneficiary when you register or join one of our teams we will be the recipient of the funds you raise, which means our efforts will gain even more traction in the future. Registration for Climate Ride events is $100 (which includes a beautiful cycling jersey or hiking shirt and more), and then you raise at least $2800 to participate in these all-inclusive events. The events are fully-supported by a team of talented leaders. Climate Ride is with you every step of the way to help with fundraising, training and logistics.  To top it all off, Climate Ride is one of the ‘greenest’ multi-day charity ride events in the world.

Urban BikingWhen you sign up, you’ll be joining many other people who want to do something to help create a better future for all of us. Climate Ride is a great way to get involved and experience an incredible adventure, powered by your own energy. Sign up as soon as you can to secure your spot in the events!

We’re hosting an information session on June 3rd to learn more about Climate Ride. The info session will be in Burlington or Montpelier – please email Maeve ( to let us know if you’d like to attend with your preferred location.

Find out more and register at Use coupon code AGAIN2015 to get $25 off your registration fee!

See you on the road!

Personal divestment an important action against climate change

Deborah Messing is a longtime volunteer with 350 Vermont, and was an integral part of the organizing team for the Personal Divestment Seminar. She believes in the financial and political power of Elder Vermonters, and is committed to organizing her community to stand up to fossil fuel companies by publicly divesting.

IMG_3647I’m heartened that so many people were willing to sacrifice a few hours of outdoor time on a beautiful early Spring Vermont afternoon, to learn about personally divesting from fossil fuels. The Main St. Landing in Burlington on May 2 was the venue for the seminar “Your Investments Matter”, organized by 350VT and Over 40 people attended. The majority of these attendees were already committed to the idea of personal divestment, but wanted more information on how to get started, various options available, the question of risk involved and the possibilities for re-investment of divested funds into sustainable directions.

Individuals have an important part to play in the divestment movement. More and more of us are taking matters into our own hands and, rather than allowing our money to contribute to climate change, are choosing to divest from fossil fuel companies. Dan Quinlan, one of the event’s organizers and the creator of, served as our moderator. Recently energized by attending Harvard Heat Week, he communicated the importance of personally divesting as a tool to fight climate change. “The personal divestment movement also presents the opportunity for more people to learn about and invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency – the heart of the new energy economy,” Dan said.

Each panelist focused on their specific area of expertise, and introduced many exciting ideas and approaches to this topic.

Banner by high schooler Jenna Rice on display at the Personal Divestment Seminar

Banner by high schooler Jenna Rice on display at the Personal Divestment Seminar

Panelists included:

Dan Quinlan,, (802) 760-7400

Jake Ide, Vermont Community Loan Fund:, (802) 223-4423

Tom Francis, Fossil Free Indexes:, (781) 504-6413

Harris Roen, Roen Financial Report:, (802) 658-2368

Karin Chamberlain, Clean Yield Asset Management:, (802) 526-2525 x105

Tom Francis began the Seminar with an overview of Fossil Free Indexes’ criteria for companies and history of researching the fossil fuel industry. Fossil Free Indexes, LLC has been instrumental in crafting the divestment movement’s strategy, and is a good resource to learn about the big picture of our movement.

Personally, the most helpful conversations for me were those related to specific alternative energy companies, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). During his talk, Harris Roen outlined his helpful, online Roen Financial Report – a great resource for folks looking to research alternative investments. In his Report, Harris has expertly analyzed which companies and funds are “greenest,” according to a list of various criteria. I encourage anyone interested in divestment to take a look at his website.

Karin Chamberlain of Clean Yield Asset Management has had a decades-long career in research and developing sustainable investments. At the Seminar, she suggested investing in companies that are incorporating sustainability into their business strategy. For example, a certain forklift company recently bought a fuel cell company, in an effort to begin using that renewable resource throughout their business. Choosing to invest in that forklift company would be a wise environmental and financial choice for investors interested in long-term company viability.

Jake Ide explained the fabulous work that the Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF) does, and reminded the audience that investing in the VCLF is investing directly in improving the lives of Vermonters.

Inspiring, provocative, detailed, and cautionary but enthusiastic, the Seminar was a great beginning to our personal divestment campaign. Plans are in the works for taking this seminar “on the road.” Stay tuned!


Thanks to the Personal Divestment Seminar’s sponsors: Progressive Asset Management, Bob the Green Guy, and The Skinny Pancake, & Main Street Landing.


Watch the Personal Divestment Seminar online anytime, courtesy of Bob the Green Guy:

350VT volunteer organizer Harris Webster on climate justice and the Carbon Risk Forum

This blog post was written by Harris Webster, Chair of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier’s VIA Local Organizing Committee. Harris helped 350 Vermont and the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club plan the Carbon Risk Forum by facilitating communication with the Church and by organizing a team of UCM volunteers during the event. It was 350VT’s pleasure to co-organize the event with Harris – thank you, Harris!

I believe the Carbon Risk Forum was an example of how the various groups interested in Climate Justice can partner to stimulate interest in and pressure our political institutions to take action for Climate Justice. As part of an active campaign to divest Vermont’s pensions from risky fossil fuel investments, the Carbon Risk Forum took place on Tuesday, April 28 at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (UCM). Over 150 people attended, including a dozen legislators, state employees, Vermont Pension Investment Committee Members, and divestment supporters. 350VT and the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club organized experts to speak, who provided useful information concerning divesting Vermont’s pension funds from fossil fuels. Panelists included Bill McKibben of, Matthew Patsky of Trillium Asset Management, Eric Becker of Clean Yield Asset Management, and Beth Sawin of Climate Interactive.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of, tells Carbon Risk Forum attendees that engaging with fossil fuel companies about climate change is fruitless:  “There are many times when shareholder engagement is the right thing to do. This isn’t one of them.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of, tells Carbon Risk Forum attendees that engaging with fossil fuel companies about climate change is fruitless: “There are many times when shareholder engagement is the right thing to do. This isn’t one of them.”

UCM’s Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA) Committee provided the location and logistical and volunteer support before, during, and after the Carbon Risk Forum. The Forum was truly a team effort – neither 350VT, the Sierra Club, nor the UCM could have done it alone!

For the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, the Carbon Risk Forum has been helpful in keeping Climate Justice on the minds of our members. UCM members had been involved with 350 Vermont and divestment earlier this year, attending 350VT’s Divestment Strategy Retreat and their legislative breakfast. However, co-sponsoring this event catalyzed an expansion of and renewed interest in the UCM VIA Committee. Of the fifteen UCM members who attended the Carbon Risk Forum, ten were non-VIA members! Our outreach clearly worked. The Carbon Risk Forum also prompted two UCM members to attend the following Saturday’s Personal Divestment Seminar in Burlington. These two members plan to host an after-Church program on personal divestment using information gained at the Seminar.

In late May, the UCM VIA Committee will discuss future events and actions for divestment. Tentative plans are in the works for future collaborations with 350VT and with other churches looking to divest. We hope to also utilize our Montpelier location to become a stronger voice for Climate Justice in the state capital. Personally, I am planning to bring Climate Justice issues to the state-wide board of the Unitarian Church’s Vermont Interfaith Action Committee. In any case, this will not be the last time that 350 Vermont and the UCM VIA collaborate.

Thank you to the Carbon Risk Forum’s sponsors: Progressive Asset Management, Bob the Green Guy, The Skinny Pancake, & Aqua Vitea Kombucha

ORCA Media will be showing footage of the Carbon Risk Forum on local cable channels on May 18th for four weeks. The Forum will air on Tuesdays at 4pm, Wednesdays at 6:30am, and Sundays at 8:30pm. You can watch the Forum anytime on ORCA’s website:

Carbon Risk Forum and Personal Divestment Seminar

Thanks for all who came out in support of our Carbon Risk Forum this past Tuesday! We are so grateful for all the support. Here is some video footage for those of you who were unable to attend:

To view more:

Don’t for get tomorrow, Saturday May 2nd is our Personal Divestment Seminar.
You can RSVP at:
We hope to see you all there!

High School Student Climate Activists Find Their Voices

The following blog post was written by Adin Buchanan, a senior at Twinfield Union High School, following 350VT's legislative breakfast at the capitol in March. 

The divestment legislative breakfast at the State House on March 27 presented the opportunity for Vermont students and community members to engage with our representatives over coffee and muffins. Though many of the legislators who stopped by supported our divestment effort, not all of them did. Volunteers spoke to why the legislature should urge the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) to divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuels by passing Bill S.28, Bill H.229, and joint resolution J.R.H. 6. We believe VPIC should divest Vermont’s pensions to insulate pension-holders from risky fossil fuels, and to send a strong message that Vermont does not support these companies’ destructive business model. Over 200 institutions have committed to divest – why not us too?

I'm the one speaking on the right

That’s me, sitting on the far left.

I watched with an even balance of apprehension and interest as the suited Representative walked towards me. There were about 12 of us seated in the red velvet chairs lining the edge of the Vermont House of Representatives Chamber, 10 of us high schoolers, myself included. When I had asked this Representative what his stance on divestment was earlier during the legislative breakfast, the man who was now drawing closer had replied “I’m a big oil and gas guy.” Now, he stood in front of me, pointed his finger, and added “Oh yeah, I like coal and fracking too!”

I had arrived at the State House cafeteria that morning alongside a high-school friend of mine who wanted in on the action. I had done a little bit of organizing previously, sending out invitations to some friends and coordinating an info session with Jillian (350VT’s Divestment Organizer) to prepare for the breakfast meet n’ greet. About 7 other students had agreed to show up. When we walked into the cafeteria I was happily surprised. Another 6 students were there of their own accord, and there were about twenty assorted adults, lobbyists, financial experts, organizers, campaigners and supporters alike. In total, a mixed bag of thirty or so, wearing green 350 T-shirts, passing out materials, and mingling with lawmakers.

Here we are sitting in the House Chamber in our green t-shirts!

Here we are sitting in the House Chamber in our green t-shirts!

My task was to explain to legislators why I, a young Vermonter, think Vermont should divest. After saying some hellos and snapping some selfies with a lobbyist friend, we dove in. A group of students and I chose a table mostly at random, “Excuse me, do you have a moment to talk about divestment?” “Ohh no no, we’re already converts, you’re wasting your time with us.” One of the women at the table said. “Go up there, that’s where the Republicans sit, they’re the ones you need to work on.” She said, pointing to a set of tables cordoned off from the rest of the cafeteria. So we went.

Several conversations later (some more friendly than others!), I realized that this single event was not necessarily going to be the definitive turning point in the fight for climate justice. I suppose what matters in the end is that we were there, making our presence known and our stance clear. We had some good conversations and excellent feedback from legislators after the event. Most of us kids, looking damn good in our green t-shirts, were introduced to the House of Representatives. I even learned a thing or two about divestment and our political process, and the free coffee and muffins weren’t bad either.

350 Vermont and our allies are hosting a two-part Spring Divestment Series coming up! If you want to learn more about divestment and get involved, please come to the Carbon Risk Forum on April 28th in Montpelier or the Personal Divestment Seminar on May 2nd in Burlington.

The following video was made by Nora Hill, a senior at Vermont Commons, in support of Federal Bill 2864 (not divestment, but still important!):