McKibben was awarded the prize for “pioneering new methods of social protest,” such as university divestment. His group has successfully pushed several institutions of higher education to excise fossil fuel investments from their endowments.
He also has helped lead protests against the Keystone pipeline, which would haul oil sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
McKibben organized a protest against the pipeline in August 2011 that ended with him and 1,253 other people being arrested.
Some observers have credited the protest with pushing President Obama to punt a decision on the controversial pipeline project until after the 2012 election.
The project is currently under federal review and is at the center of an intense lobbying and political battle.
Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because they say it would
facilitate fossil fuel production that they say would exacerbate climate change.
some unions that traditionally back Democrats support Keystone because
it would provide jobs. The project is also backed by Republican and some Democratic lawmakers, the oil-and gas industry and officials in Canada.
Supporters contend Keystone would provide an injection of short-term construction jobs while also strengthening energy security.