Divestment Resources

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. (Bill McKibben)  Bill McKibbon distills technical financial and environmental details into a clear and frightening message of 3 core numbers.  Source:  Rolling Stone, July 19, 2012. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719#ixzz3PuHIPRJz 

  • 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s the amount of global warming that is broadly considered to be the upper boundary before genuinely catastrophic effects will kick in. We’re already close to half-way to that level. The current warming of 0.8 degrees C is causing substantial changes in temperatures, extreme weather, ice melting and the closely related effect of ocean acidification. Two degrees is definitely the top end that we can tolerate.
  • 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide. That’s how much more CO2 can be released into the atmosphere in the next 40 years and still (potentially) keep under that 2 degree warming. In 2011, global CO2 emissions totaled 31.6 gigatons. Some quick math shows that emissions need to decline substantially to keep within the overall budget, but at the current rates of increasing emissions, we’re expected to pass the 565 gigaton line in about 16 years. The current trend of fossil fuel use is pointing toward a temperature increase of 6 degrees C (11 degrees F), “which would create a planet straight out of science fiction.”
  • 2,795 Gigatons. “The number describes the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies. In short, it’s the fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn. The key point is that this new number — 2,795 — is higher than 565. Five times higher.”



The Moral Case for Divestment


GreenFaith: Divest and Reinvest NOW Campaign Resources. http://www.greenfaith.org/programs/divest-and-reinvest   This is a treasure trove of resources (statements, resolutions, petitions, tools, list of known religious divesting efforts) on the moral case for fossil fuel divestment developed or collected together for easy access by faith leaders and faith-based communities. Source: GreenFaith


Eco-Justice Notes: What would Jesus divest? (Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director, Eco-Justice Ministries)  http://www.eco-justice.org/E-130503.asp  What sort of advice does Jesus of Nazareth give on managing investment portfolios?  Jesus cuts through the moral and tactical clutter with some clear guidance. Matthew (6:21) and Luke (12:34) quote him: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   If your church’s pension and endowment funds own stock in corporations that produce fossil fuels — ExxonMobil or Peabody Coal are two big examples — then you’ll want those businesses to be profitable.  Generally, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   When your investment choices hope for good returns from the companies that produce burnable carbon, you’re not very likely to be an advocate for policies that cut the profit margins. Should coal companies no longer blow the top off mountains to get at narrow seams of coal?  Should an across-the-board carbon tax increase the cost of all fossil fuels? Most dramatically, should most of those fossil fuels be left in the ground, never to be sold and never to be burned? Those actions have economic consequences that define the returns that shareholders receive. If your treasure is invested in fossil fuels, then your heart is tied to those companies, too.  Source: Eco-Justice News, 5/3/2013


Eco-Justice Notes:  Three numbers for a Moral Movement.  (Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director, Eco-Justice Ministries)   http://www.eco-justice.org/E-120727.asp  McKibben’s three numbers tell us that we have to use everything we have — especially our moral outrage and our financial clout — to change the economic rules by imposing a high price on carbon’s pollution. We have to be bold, passionate and faithful in public witness as we stand for the health and vitality of the whole Earth community.  Source: Eco-Justice News, 7/27/2012


We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet.  (Desmond Tutu)  We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters. Source: The Guardian, 4/10/2014 http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl  


Eco-Justice Notes: Leaving 80% in the Ground.  (Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director, Eco-Justice Ministries)   Faith communities are one of the few institutions that can speak the necessary truth about where we stand. Churches and other faiths bring a moral perspective with less of an economic fixation. We can speak of hope coming through profound change, and we can describe how “the good life” doesn’t depend on our energy use. We can, and must, be a voice for future generations and for the rest of creation, naming the needs and the rights of those who have no political and economic voice. http://www.eco-justice.org/E-150116.asp  Source: Eco-Justice News, 1/16/2015


Three Reasons Divestment Could Change the World. Three reasons why the divestment campaign has already made an impact:  1. It’s Widely Participatory.  People from all walks of life can take action to divest through the groups that they are personally connected with, and in a familiar context. 2. It Represents Action that can be Taken Right Now.  The problems of climate change can seem overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel paralyzed in the face of them. The divestment movement is powerful because it offers action that can be taken now — and that’s a great psychological antidote to the feeling of helplessness.   3. It Frames Climate Change as a Moral Issue.   “The reason [fossil fuel companies] are profitable is because they’re destroying the earth. That’s what the church needs to be shouting,” says Rev. Jim Antal. “It’s real simple. They’re making a profit because we are letting them destroy God’s creation.” Discussing the issue of climate change as a moral issue sets the stage for people to examine their own actions and to press for political change. http://www.greenamerica.org/fossilfree/divestment.cfm   Source:  Green  America


The Economic Case for Divestment


The Economic Case for Divestment. (Garvin Jabusch, Chief Investment Officer, Green Alpha Advisors, LLC):   Outlines the economic and social reasons why not divesting is poor trust management. Source:  Shelton Capital Management, 2014 http://sheltoncap.com/files/1314/2128/2891/The_Economic_Case_for_Divesting_from_Fossil_Fuels_2015.pdf


In Keystone Fight and Beyond, Infrastructure Is Energy Policy. (Elizabeth Douglass)  New pipelines, power plants and export facilities would lock in carbon emissions for another generation and continue the dominance of fossil fuels.“Many of our hopes and our worries about the future of the global energy system boil down to questions about investment,” said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, during a June speech on a new investment report. “Will policy makers succeed in steering investment towards a cleaner, more secure energy system, or are we locking in technologies and patterns of consumption that store up trouble for the future?”  http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20150108/keystone-fight-and-beyond-infrastructure-energy-policy   Source: Inside Climate News, 1/8/2015


The Investment Case for Divestment. (David Richardson)    There is mounting evidence that the alternative energy sector offers the prospect of stronger returns without the downside risks of owning fossil fuel assets.  The recent IPCC report suggests that, by the end of the century, greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced to zero.   Substantial reductions will have to be made in the coming decades.  This suggests an enormous need for capital and investment opportunities within the clean energy sector.   As fiduciaries, investors should do more to understand these trends and their impact on portfolios.  They should explore the options that exist to invest in clean energy.  And they should engage with the policy makers who are likely to dictate the timing, speed and economic efficiency of the low-carbon energy transition.  http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/blogarticle/3412313/blog/the-investment-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.html    Source: Institutional Investor, 12/22/2014.


The Financial Case for Divestment of Fossil Fuel Companies (Bevis Longstreth, Former SEC Commissioner)  As long term investors, fiduciaries of endowments need not worry unduly about short-term results. Anticipatory divestment should be viewed as having unknown short-term consequences for the portfolio, which could involve loss as well as gain. In the long run, those short-term results are unimportant. The financial case advanced above rests on the claim that fossil fuel companies will prove to be bad investments over the long term and, therefore, with foresight that anticipates this result, should be removed from the long-term holdings of an endowment before the strengthening likelihood of this result becomes commonplace in the market.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bevis-longstreth/the-financial-case-for-di_b_4203910.html  Source: The Huffington Post, 11/2/2013, Updated: 1/23/2104


The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment at Stanford University: A REPORT BY FOSSIL FREE STANFORD  http://www.fossilfreestanford.org/uploads/2/3/4/0/23400882/_the_case_for_fossil_fuel_divestment_at_stanford_university.pdf   Stanford must seize this opportunity, not only to  be on the right side of history, but to create the right side of history. Stanford is a pioneer, an innovator, a leader. Now is no time to shrink from the mantel of leadership. We must provide the spark that precipitates the shift to a sustainable future. Divesting fully from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies may not be easy, but doing the right thing rarely is. Divestment can be a good financial decision, but in light of the climate crisis we face it is the only acceptable moral decision. For the sake of its current students, all of the graduating classes to come, and future generations around the world, Stanford has an obligation to take a stand against climate change and confront the greatest moral challenge of our time.  More from Stanford: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/11/stanford-professors-fossil-fuel-investments


The Case for Divestment.  (John Craig)  Divestment is not the ultimate solution to environmental issues. Economic pressure is not the only thing that will lead to significant changes to our energy usage. However, part of the movement is to generate discussions concerning the future of the Earth and how we will affect it. It is time that those in charge of Fordham’s endowment have this conversation. http://fordhampoliticalreview.org/the-case-for-divestment/    Source: Fordham Political Review.


The Great Deflation. (Brett Fleishmann, 350.org)  Some thoughts and updates on the financial situation as it relates to the Carbon Bubble, and what it means for the divestment movement and divestment campaigns. … If trustees aren’t looking at the current state of fossil fuel markets as a red flag, divestment campaigners should be doing all they can to point out the dangers. Because the carbon bubble is popping — gradually but surely.  http://350.org/the-great-deflation/  Source:  350.org, 1/21/2015.


UN climate chief: Carbon bubble is now a reality.  (Sophie Yeo)  The idea that investors may lose money sunk into fossil fuel projects is no longer just a theory—according to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, it is now a reality. http://www.rtcc.org/2015/01/20/un-climate-chief-carbon-bubble-is-now-a-reality/#sthash.Sl8lY3lK.dpuf    Source: Responding to Climate Change, 1/20/2015







Green Faith:  http://www.greenfaith.org/

GoFossilFree:  http://gofossilfree.org/  divestment campaign

Starting a Campaign: http://gofossilfree.org/usa/getting-started/   Successful campaigns can take many forms, but GoFossilFree has found that many follow a similar path. This is a basic divestment campaign roadmap, whether you’re targeting your university, your pension fund, or your faith community