About Divestment

What is Divestment?

Divestment is the opposite of investment. It is the removal of money from an industry, whether for ethical or financial reasons.

The fossil fuel divestment movement is calling on universities, municipalities, public good institutions, philanthropic organizations, and individuals to divest their financial holdings from the fossil fuel industry. The movement is based on 2 very basic facts:

1)    Fossil fuel corporations have 5x more known oil, coal, and gas reserves than climate scientists have determined we can burn and still have a 50{1d75e8f25fec215e440cf5587fba0084dfe6311a478415999852653b1ef72edb} chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.*

2)    Fossil fuel corporations continue to spend 100s of billions of dollars every year looking for more oil, more gas, and more coal.**

In essence, fossil fuel companies have become rogue actors; their profits depend on radical climate destabilization.

It is because of this that many people have concluded that just as it is immoral to gain from tobacco companies (whose profits depend on harming human health) so too it is immoral to gain from fossil fuel companies, whose profits require grievous harm to every person (and ecosystem) alive.

Therefore the correct moral action is to divest from such companies.

Here is a fuller explanation of the reasoning behind the fossil fuel divestment movement.

* This claim was first popularized by Bill McKibben and has since been backed up by numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies.

** It has been estimated that 1{1d75e8f25fec215e440cf5587fba0084dfe6311a478415999852653b1ef72edb} of global GDP is currently being expended on searching out more fossil fuel reserves, including in high risk areas such as the Arctic. Ironically, 1{1d75e8f25fec215e440cf5587fba0084dfe6311a478415999852653b1ef72edb} of global GDP is also a figure that has been touted by the International Energy Agency as being the sum required to transition our planet to a green economy that would keep us below catastrophic levels of warming.