Why Divest?

THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS IS DESTROYING THE CLIMATE.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm), the highest level in human history, on May 10, 2013. Most species on our planet depend on atmospheric carbon levels to be below 350ppm to ensure long term survival. Human-caused climate change is accelerating faster than previously expected and this unfortunate milestone was caused in large part by the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel corporations have five times more oil, coal and gas in known reserves than climate scientists think is safe to burn.

DIVESTMENT FROM FOSSIL FUELS IS A MORAL ISSUE.

Climate change harms all life on earth, the only home we have. Already, people’s livelihoods, homes, health, and communities are being damaged–sometimes irreparably– by the impacts of climate change.

Just like in the movements to divest from the tobacco industry or to end Apartheid in South Africa, climate change is a deeply moral issue. Nationwide, colleges, religious organizations, cities and states are campaigning for divestment from fossil fuels on moral grounds: If it is wrong to wreck the planet, then it is also wrong to profit from that wreckage.

Furthermore, big oil uses and abuses its power over our elected officials. Fossil fuel companies spend $167,000 daily lobbying the U.S. congress, frequently to block clean energy solutions, thus harming our health and our future. It is time to treat them like the rogue companies they are.

THE CARBON BUBBLE: INVESTMENT IN FOSSIL FUELS PRESENTS RISK.

A report released by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the London School of Economics shows that 60 to 80 percent of coal, oil and gas reserves held by the top 200 oil, gas, and mining companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges could be considered unburnable and therefore far less valuable than thought. This is because these reserves consist of five times the amount of carbon possible to emit without causing a 2 degree Celsius rise in the Earth’s average temperature, causing climate change to tip out of control.

Since all governments have agreed upon a maximum 2 degrees celsius rise in global temperatures  in Copenhagen, at some point legislation will prevent the burning of additional carbon reserves. Thus fossil-fuel company stocks and fossil-fuel producer country sovereign debt is currently overvalued.  Additionally, preventing the ill effects of, and cleaning up from the disasters of, climate change will impose economic costs on countries. Once investors are wary of this fact,  the value of fossil fuel investments and oil-producer country sovereign debts  is predicted to implode, bursting the Carbon Bubble.

News of the Carbon Bubble has begun to make headlines in media sources worldwide including The Guardian, Financial Times, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe.
 
 
For more information, see our document “Why divest? The case for fossil fuel divestment in Somerville”.