What does it mean to divest from fossil fuels?

The fossil fuel divestment campaign has become one of the biggest anti-corporate campaigns. The institutions committed to divesting are estimated to be worth $39 trillion, more than the annual GDP of the US and China combined.

Fossil fuel divestment is the act of investing in climate solutions and selling stakes in non-renewable energy sources. Divestment places social, political and economic pressure on fossil fuel companies because it limits their overall financial gain as partners stop contributing to their companies.

For an institution to divest, they would identify and sell any stocks from companies associated with fossil fuels. These can be big oil producers, or companies that are highly dependent on fossil fuels like the automobile industry and factory work. A few examples of fossil fuels are coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil and tar. The largest oil and gas companies in the world include Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips and more.

There have been movements at DU and around the world encouraging institutions and organizations ranging from universities to NGOs to small businesses to divest from fossil fuels. The most rewarding event for these environmental activist groups would be to see your institution divest from fossil fuels.

The Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitments Database has reported that divestment has been productive at holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage they have done to the environment. This became apparent in the report due to the high amounts of re-investments towards renewable energy.

Nearly 1,500 institutions have divested. This includes faith-based organizations, educational institutions, philanthropic foundations, government sectors, healthcare institutions, NGO’s and for-profit corporations. A few notable institutions that divested are Harvard University, the Ford Foundation, La Banque Postale, University of Oxford and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Out of the institutions that have divested, there are different types of divestment: partial, full, coal, tar and fossil free. It is still productive and successful for institutions to divest from one sector of the fossil fuel industry like coal or tar, but it does blur the lines when you think an institution like Yale is fully divested, but it is only a partial divestment.

This could be due to a multitude of factors like the institution not wanting to pull out all of their fossil fuel investments at once, or it could simply be performative and in response to a demand from activists groups. The world of divestment is complex, involved and even controversial. The controversy stems from companies who are against divesting because they would lose out on profitable economic returns.

Now, what is the next step after divestment? The first step is to ensure an institution can fully separate themselves from fossil fuels. This will have to be to the best of their ability because there are degrees of separation that are still tied to fossil fuels. For example, if a company is still purchasing plastic products from a company that is dependent on oil, then the company can still be seen as being associated with fossil fuels.

Once a company has fully divested, they can choose to re-invest their money into renewable energy or other environmental interests.

When will organizations completely break from fossil fuel usage? Already, we are seeing an increase in companies divesting their assets from fossil fuels. The big questions are, will this trend continue and will it make a positive impact on the environment that is large enough to put an end to the climate crisis?

The article was written by Tori Everson.

Source: https://duclarion.com/

Tags: Divestment, ExxonMobil, Fossil Fuels, Fuel companies
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