What can you do to fight climate change? The Countdown: #4 Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies

Riding the downturnBill McKibbon and the group 350.org are campaigning for big investors like university endowment funds to remove their investments from the fossil fuel sector (companies that sell, transport or profit from oil, coal and gas).

The logic is that divestment was one of the approaches that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. According to the British newspaper The Guardian the fossil fuel divestment campaign is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign. - UPDATE now The Guardian has thrown it's weight behind the campaign.

Oil, coal and gas companies have historically been profitable so it is often hard to convince  investment managers to pull investment out of fossil fuels. Even the 350.org campaign suggests divestment take place over several years.

The idea of a “carbon bubble” has begun to circulate in the world of finance. The idea is that if people do find a way to address climate change it may mean that a substantial portion of declared reserves of oil, coal, and gas companies will never be dug out of the ground and sold. This will effectively make these reserves “stranded assets” which will need to be written off by fossil fuel companies. In such a scenario you divesting from fossil fuels may actually be a prudent way to avoid investment risk.

McKibbon says if it’s wrong to wreck the environment then it’s wrong to profit from the wrecking of the environment.

If you have investments consider whether they are in oil, coal and gas industries. If you have a pension plan or are part of an institution that manages a cash reserve, check out whether they are invested in fossil fuel companies.

One great local initiative where you can reinvest those divested funds is the Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop - OREC. It takes local people's investments and plows them into solar panels and such also in Ottawa, from which financial returns are generated by sales of the green electricity generated back into the grid. They've raised millions from local coop members and are already producing both green energy and investor returns.

See also

#5 save energy

#3 support a group

#2 stop tarsands pipelines

#1 tell politicians it matters

Also, sign the Ottawa Climate Pledge

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