divestment

David Suzuki: Divest from Damage and Invest in a Healthier Future

If people keep rapidly extracting and burning fossil fuels, there’s no hope of meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement climate change commitments. To ensure a healthy, hopeful future for humanity, governments must stick to their pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. Many experts agree that to meet that goal, up to 80 per cent of oil, coal and gas reserves must stay in the ground. That makes fossil fuels a bad investment — what analysts call “stranded assets.”

Putting money toward things that benefit humanity, whether investing in clean energy portfolios or implementing energy-saving measures in your home or business, is better for the planet and the bottom line than sinking it into outdated industries that endanger humanity.

Coal Mining's Financial Failures: Two Thirds of World's Production Now Unprofitable

Sixty-five percent of the world's coal production is unprofitable at today's prices, a new research report by Wood Mackenzie, a commercial intelligence company often cited by investment analysts and the coal industry itself, concluded.

Both major types of coal — the coking coal used for making steel and the thermal coal burned in coal-fired electrical power plants — were included in Wood Mackenzie's analysis. The estimate may be conservative, as the group excluded some costs incurred during mining, and focused primarily on the sharp drop in the price of coal.

Divestment Movement Hits Major Milestone As World Leaders Debate Climate Action In Paris

More than 500 institutions that manage $3.4 trillion in assets have now committed to divesting holdings in fossil fuels, divestment campaign groups announced today in Paris.

As recently as September 2014, just 181 institutions managing $50 billion in assets had made some sort of divestment commitment.

350.org and Divest-Invest, two of the key groups organizing the divestment movement, announced the new additions to the growing list of divestors this morning in Paris at the UN COP21 climate negotiations.

Worries Build Among Investors Over Oil and Gas Industry’s Exposure to Water and Climate Risks

When it comes to financial risks surrounding water, there is one industry that, according to a new report, is both among the most exposed to these risks and the least transparent to investors about them: the oil and gas industry.

This year, 1,073 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies faced requests from institutional investors concerned about the companies’ vulnerability to water-related risks that they disclose their plans for adapting and responding to issues like drought or water shortages.

The Divestment Movement Has Unexpectedly Exploded into the Trillions of Dollars and Here’s Why

At this time last year, building on the momentum generated by Climate Week and the New York People’s Climate March, divestment advocates made an ambitious announcement: a plan to triple the $50 billion in assets individuals and organizations had pledged to divest from fossil fuels by the time of the 2015 Paris UN climate negotiations.

That was an ambitious plan.

But in the year since, according to a new report from Arabella Advisors, the divestment movement exploded in scope and scale increasing fifty-fold, bringing the total combined assets of those divesting to an incredible $2.6 trillion.

It’s safe to say that no one, not even the most optimistic divestment dreamers, could have anticipated this outcome.

So what’s behind the global momentum for divestment?

California Public Pension Funds Lost $5 Billion On Fossil Fuel Investments In One Year

Two of California’s massive public pension funds lost more than $5 billion on investments in coal, oil and natural gas in just 12 months.

According to a report released by environmental group 350.org, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) lost $3 billion and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) lost $2.1 billion from their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies between June 2014 and June of this year.

Combined, the two funds lost a total of $840 million from their stock investments in coal companies alone — one-fourth of the value of their coal holdings.

Six Months Later: Glasgow University’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Is Only Just Beginning

The campaign for fossil fuel divestment doesn’t end once someone agrees to divest, Sophie Baumert, coordinator of the Glasgow University Climate Action Society, tells DeSmog UK.

Glasgow University was the first academic institution in Europe to announce it would divest from the fossil fuel industry over the next 10 years. Its landmark decision was heralded as “a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement” by American environmentalist Bill McKibben and has inspired universities across Britain and Europe to follow suit.

But six months later, the university is still mulling the decision. It has yet to begin divesting its £18m-worth of fossil fuel investments in companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and Centrica.

'Frackademia' Report Reveals Ties Between Government, Universities, and Shale Industry

While the government has decided to provide tax breaks for the oil industry in the 2015 Government Budget, everyone else has been talking about divestment. Ben Lucas looks at the growing movement and new evidence published this week on the relationship between government, universities and fracking companies.

What started out as a grassroots campaigning tactic to lobby big institutions to stop backing non-renewable energy production, has this week gained large-scale mainstream support.

The Guardian’s “keep it in the ground” campaign has now gathered a petition with over 60,000 signatures to ask the world’s largest charitable foundations to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. The UN has also come out in open support for the increasingly global movement.

And this week a report published by TalkFracking, a campaign group supported by Vivienne Westwood, on ‘Frackademia’ seeks to raise awareness about the influence of the fracking industry in university research departments.

Fossil Fuel Industry Funds Study That Concludes Fossil Fuel Divestment Is A Bad Idea

As of September 2014, 181 institutions and local governments as well as 656 individual investors representing more than $50 billion in assets had pledged to join the growing fossil fuel divestment movement, which seeks to take investments away from the oil, gas and coal companies that are cooking our atmosphere and reinvest that money in the development of a low-carbon economy.

This has, understandably, caused quite a bit of alarm amongst the fossil fuel set.

Enter Daniel Fischel, chairman and president of economic consulting firm Compass Lexecon, who recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal called “The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Divestment” in which he discussed the findings of a forthcoming report that “indicates that fossil-fuel divestment could significantly harm an investment portfolio.”

Fischel goes out of his way to appear to have the interests of the poor universities called on to divest at heart: “Every bit of economic and quantitative evidence available to us today shows that the only entities punished under a fossil-fuel divestment regime are the schools actually doing the divesting,” he concludes.

You had to get past the WSJ’s paywall and then read to the bottom of the piece before you got to the most salient point: “The report discussed in this op-ed, ‘Fossil Fuel Divestment: A Costly and Ineffective Investment Strategy,’ was financed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.”

Campus Discontent: Washington University Students Sit-In Against Peabody, Harvard Faculty Call for Divestment

It's a busy week in the campus fossil fuel divestment movement. 

A “sit in” by students at the Washington University of St. Louis enters its third day today. The protestors have camped out underneath their campus's Brookings Archway since Tuesday, demanding that the school cut ties with Peabody Energy — the world's largest private coal company — and its CEO Greg Boyce. 

Boyce was named to WU's Board of Trustees in 2009. One year earlier, Peabody gave the university millions of dollars to help create the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization. (Along with Arch Coal, who also kicked in, the investment was roughly $5 million.) 

According to Caroline Burney, a senior at Washington University, the sit-in only became necessary after many other attempts for dialogue with the school's administration were exhausted. Burney writes: 

Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce also holds one more distinction: member of the Washington University Board of Trustees. Since Boyce was placed on the board in 2009, students have been actively organizing against Peabody Energy’s presence on campus. We have demanded that Boyce be removed from the Board of Trustees and that the University change the name of the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity to which Peabody and Arch Coal donated $5,000,000. We have met with the Chancellor – multiple times. We have dropped banners at coal events, peacefully disrupted speeches by Greg Boyce on campus, marched through campus and taken our demands to Peabody’s headquarters. We have protested with residents from Black Mesa, collected signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and rallied with the United Mine Workers in their fight against Peabody.

But, five years later, Boyce is still on the board, the name of the Clean Coal Consortium remains unchanged, and Chancellor Wrighton continues to stand behind Peabody Energy. Indeed, just this week he emailed us saying, “your opinion that peabody energy behaves in an ‘irresponsible and unjust manner’ is not one that I share.” The Administration has successfully used a “deny by delay” process by holding town hall meetings and developing task forces around renewable energy and energy efficiency while ignoring the role that coal plays on the campus.

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