At my age (eighty something) I’m not able to get out to participate in rallies that I think are worth wild. I still have signs in my closets like Elders for a Sustainable Future or Mr. President Veto Keystone XL that I carried outside of Senator John McCain’s office in Phoenix, Arizona, or on the corner of downtown Tempe, Arizona with a group of folks who hoped they could change President Obama’s mind. But in the last month or so I’ve been getting more and more emails with petitions for me to sign and of course to send money, though it’s not required. So one of the ways I feel I’m being an environmental activist now is by responding to petitions. Some days I answer six or more petitions on my computer. So in today’s blog I’d like to focus on Divest and Invest. Not because I have a lot of money that I can divest, or that I think you can divest, but the founders of Divest—Invest would certainly like to have more and more interested activists in divestment, and hope our petitions can make a difference.
Here is a website, What is Fossil Fuel Divestment?, that I found to be fairly straightforward to understand. And here are a few of their dictums:
- Divestment is simply the opposite of investment. It means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.
- Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors and the planet, so we are we’re calling on institutions to divest from these companies.
- Only a decade ago, tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions. That is no longer the case. It is our belief that that fossil fuel companies should be seen in the same light.
- The public is rapidly coming to recognize that sponsorship programmers are means by which attention can be distracted from their impacts on human rights, the environment, and our global climate.
Where There’s a Will There’s a Way
It was back in June 2011 when a group of students and environment activists met at Wallace Global Fund to talk about what eventually would be a new proposal. “Why not launch a coal divestment campaign on the nation’s campuses, modeled loosely on the Anti-Apartheid Movement of the 1980s?” Actually the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was founded in 1960 to campaign for the abolition of apartheid. AAM grew out of the Boycott Movement which began in 1959. If you want to know more about AAM you can look at the movement above.
Within a year, divestment campaigns were in progress on fifty colleges and universities. Thanks to climate activist Bill McKibben, today, Divest-Invest have spread worldwide “…to become a full—fledged global movement, demanding divestment from fossil energy and investment in climate solutions.” It has brought hospitals, cities, pension funds, faith groups, foundations and individuals into climate activism. Before the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014, “…more than 800 institutions and individuals announced their commitments to divest from fossil fuels—for a total of over $52 billion in fossil—free investments.”
Here is an outstanding TED TALK for 15 minutes titled: Divest-Invest & the Future of New Energy Solution by Jenna Nicolas on June 21, 2015. Judging from the applause from the audience, if you ignore Ms. Nicolas first line, she managed to get a lot of useful information across in short period of time. I hope you agree!
In case you don’t like videos, here are several articles, all within the 2016-17. The first article is Assets Pledged to Fossil Divestment Surpass $5 Trillion Says New Report PR Newswire December 12, 2016. Notice the date! It starts off by saying: “The scope of global fossil fuel divestment has doubled over the last 15 months, with institutions and individuals controlling $5.197 trillion in assets pledging.” That’s correct; I said “trillion”!
Even before the UN Secretary—General Ban Ki-moon left his position he took time to say, “One year after the adoption of the historic Paris Climate Agreement, it’s clear that investors have a key role to play. I commend today’s announcement that a growing number of investors are backing as shift away from the most carbon intensive energy sources and into safe, sustainable energy. Investments in clean energy are the right thing to do—and the smart way to build prosperity for all, while protecting our planet and ensuring no one is left behind.”
Divest to Invest:The New Global Movement, by Marcia G. Yerman , 6/14/2016, The Huffington Post. The author of this article is concerned about herself and about us. Especially if we are also concerned about climate change, “…from college student to those planning for retirement is how to combine concern for the future of the planet with money issues, and economic safety.” She has the answer! She’s following the plan of Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). He wants us to use the same procedures that the World War II Bonds . Unfortunately, Sen. Udall’s amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 did not pass. On last April 19 a “…vote tally of 50 yes and 47 no fell short of the requisite 62 votes needed for passage.”
But Ms.Yerman isn’t quitting. After giving us some people who are divesting like Prince Charles, the Rockefeller Fund, and Leonardo Di Caprio, the rest of her article shows us a “A good place to start learning about options is at Divest-Invest . They have an extremely robust website with information geared to different groups including individuals.” Check it out!
Just one more article! This one is by Lorraine Chow, and it’s dated January 12, 2017 Exxon Ordered to Fork Over 40 Years of Climate Change . All I’m going to say is “ExxonMobil was dealt a major blow when after a Massachusetts judge ordered the company to hand in more than 40 years of climate research.” Interesting, Rex Tillerson worked for 42 years at Exxon as an executive, and now the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday approved his nomination. We shall see what we shall see!