Sierra Club Memos on Flood Wall Street

Dear Livable-Climate Lovers,

Below are Sierra Club internal memos on Flood Wall Street (FWS).  These are a stark reminder that, in this battle between corporations and the climate, green NPO’s are corporations.   (while recognizing the minority that do kick-ass work).   Here are 3 emails, the last which is a post-action mass email that flips on message and mentions FWS.   Share with your friends!

Hi All,

I wanted to provide a quick reminder to everyone who is working on the People’s Climate March. A civil disobedience action is scheduled to occur on September 22, 2014, the day after the People’s Climate March. The Sierra Club is not involved in this action. Sierra Club staff and volunteers are not permitted to endorse, organize support for, or participate in the planned civil disobedience action.

In the next few days, as you are working on behalf of the Sierra Club in preparation for PCM and if you are going to be onsite on Sunday, please be mindful of this rule. If your role involves speaking with the media, it is likely that reporters may ask you questions about the FloodWallStreet civil disobedience action. It is important that you reply that the Sierra Club is not involved in said action and then redirect the conversation to the People’s Climate March. It is important that you do not give the impression that the Sierra Club endorses the action or supports it in any way.  Unless directly asked by a reporter about the civil disobedience action, all Sierra Club communications should refrain from discussing it in any way.

Please forward to PCM participants who are not on this listserv. If you have any questions, please contact me directly or reach out to



Dave Thack
Compliance Director
Sierra Club

Phone: 202-675-2395

This memos gives clearance for autonomous action:

Hi All,

I am writing to clarify the email that Michael sent on my behalf, as I didn’t properly articulate the following point. Staff and volunteers are allowed to engage in an act of civil disobedience on their own time, as individuals. They just are not allowed to do so in the name of the Sierra Club. The Club recognizes that it cannot control the private actions of its members, and in particular cannot prevent its members from engaging in acts of civil disobedience. However, no member of the Club is authorized to use, display, or invoke the Club’s name or logo (including the name of any chapter, group, or other entity of the Club) in connection with committing, or encouraging, requesting or directing any other person to commit, any violation of the law.

The guidance I provided is intended to direct staff and volunteers working on behalf of the Sierra Club prior to and at the People’s Climate March. However, it does not apply to activity undertaken by staff and volunteers on their own time as individuals.

Dave Thack
Compliance Director
Sierra Club



September 24, 2014

A Shout Heard Round the World
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If anyone doubted the existence of a mighty climate movement in this country, then the sight of more than 400,000 determined, joyful, vociferous people marching through midtown Manhattan in the People’s Climate March in New York City last Sunday has set them straight. Even for those of us who knew that people are ready for climate action, the sight of so many people from so many different backgrounds, all united behind the same righteous purpose, was both exhilarating and humbling. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking, “So this is what it feels like to be part of history.”
Only time will tell exactly how big a turning point Sunday was in our progress in stopping climate disruption. Personally, I think it was a huge one. But I also know that what matters most right now is not what we did last weekend, but where we go from here. Our job now is to build on this incredible moment.
Let’s not forget, though, that the march in New York was only the largest and most dramatic event on this historic day. People took action at over 2,700 events in more than 150 countries. This was a shout heard round the world — but it was also heard seven blocks away at the United Nations.
The march was timed to coincide with the UN Climate Summit because, after all, this is the ultimate global issue. We all share the world’s climate, and everyone stands to lose if the nations of the world can’t agree on a plan to limit carbon pollution. This week’s summit and the climate talks scheduled for Paris next year will be critical. As President Obama and representatives from other nations spoke on Tuesday, no one denied the urgency of the crisis, and several countries announced major new commitments.
Among the European nations, France promised $1 billion for the Green Climate Fund, Germany announced that it would not directly finance any new coal plants, and Denmark said it will become fossil-fuel free by 2050. The European Union committed to cutting emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050.
Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli made his country’s first-ever commitment to peak its carbon emissions, but would only set a deadline of “as early as possible.” Coming from the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, that’s a start.
As for the U.S., President Obama said only that his administration would announce new carbon reduction goals by next year. He focused instead on how the U.S. will step up its international efforts — including a new executive order that requires federal agencies be guided by the need to build climate resilience into all international development programs and investments. The president spoke of how “Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them.” On Keystone XL and the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipelines, on LNG gas exports, and on coal and oil leases, the president will have the opportunity to show us he’s listening.
Even before the UN Climate Summit started, though, we were seeing results of the growing moral pressure exemplified by the People’s Climate March (and also by the following day’s Flood Wall Street protests, which shut down a 10-block stretch of lower Broadway for nearly seven hours).
On Monday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that his company would no longer help fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free-market lobbying group that has worked to kill renewable energy programs and teach climate denial in schools. “We should not be aligned with such people,” Schmidt said, “they’re just literally lying.”
The Google news was great, but Monday’s addition of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to the fast-growing list of philanthropic organizations that have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies was both welcome and wonderfully ironic. These are the heirs, after all, of John D. Rockefeller, the world’s first oil billionaire. More importantly, though, divestment is a trend with momentum. The number of institutions that have committed to divest from fossil fuels since the beginning of this year has more than doubled — and they represent more than $50 billion in assets. Double that a few more times and — you do that math.
Ultimately, though, the most important message of the People’s Climate March was one of empowerment. Although most people believe we have a responsibility to act on climate, the challenge can seem overwhelming to just one person. After this week, no one ever needs to feel alone in this fight. We are millions of people, all around the world. Together, we have power that even the wealthiest corporations in the world will be unable to resist.
The march may have ended on Sunday, but the movement is just getting going.

Michael Brune, Sierra Club

Sierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105 |

Categorized: Updates

2 comments on “Sierra Club Memos on Flood Wall Street

  1. I don’t think these messages equate environmental nonprofits to corporations, Sierra has a complicated and fraught history, but as a more moderate group that helped turn out mass numbers of people to the People’s Climate March and getting more and more engaged with the mass push necessary to overcome this crisis, I don’t think writing them off recognizes the real need to have mass numbers of people pushing for climate action, and not just the radical few. There’s a really good article about flood wall street vs. the People’s climate march here:

  2. Thanks for your response! We are not “writing off” Seirra Club. And not all of us are of the same opinions on these memos. For me, it’s a stark reminder that NPO’s receiving corporate money can not be expected to battle the true polluters of the planet as fiercely as those who don’t. It’s basic math — when you take in $97M per year (their gross income 2011), then what can we possibly expect? Those are on par with larger “corporate earnings”. Regardless, we look forward to working with everyone as stated in the Nation article you linked to, which was co-written by a member of Occupy Sandy.