Bloomberg News reports that companies serious about climate change have outperformed the wider market by 10 percent over the last five years. CDP, a UK nonprofit, tracks hundreds of companies and grades them "based on how aggressively they are setting and meeting carbon goals, and on how forthcoming they are about this work":
CDP's Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) is composed of companies that lead their peers in managing and reporting the carbon pollution from their own operations and supply chains.... In the five years since the CPLI first launched, the index beat both the Bloomberg World Index, which tracks the largest companies across sectors by market value, and the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
In short, reducing the use of carbon is good business, and many companies are helping their bottom line while helping the planet. CDP calculates that the return on investment of carbon reduction activities is 33 percent, providing a complete payback for green costs in just three years.
Many businesspeople mistakenly believe that spending money to move from carbon-based to renewable energy hurts their profits. CDP demonstrates that the reverse is true: green business is profitable business.
It might seem, on the basis of this report, that those of us in the climate movement would do better to encourage Chevron and Peabody Coal to diversify and reduce their carbon footprint rather than to work for divestment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Join us as we sound the alarm for divestment from oil companies — and from coal and natural gas too! We call for institutions and individuals to stop buying stocks and bonds of companies that are destroying the climate with CO2 — and to get rid of any current fossil fuel investments within five years.
Divestment campaigns were instrumental in fighting South African apartheid and tobacco addiction. They will be effective fighting fossil fuel addiction, too.
✔︎ Click here to join the campaign.
✔︎ Click here for more information and resources.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, will speak at the Climate Action Forum next week in San Francisco, and fossil fuel divestment is on the agenda. The Forum, cosponsored by 350 Bay Area, is at San Francisco State University.
McKibben's talk will be at 2:00 pm on Thursday, October 16, and student-led breakout sessions will follow to encourage involvement with climate activism, including divestment. Three climate films will also be screened earlier in the week, on October 13, 14, and 15. You can find more information and RSVP to these events here.
The University of Glasgow is divesting from fossil fuels. In a dramatic decision, the university court voted today to become the first European institution of higher education to cease "profiting from the wreckage of the climate," as Bill McKibben puts it. Glasgow will "begin divesting £18m [$29 million] from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m."
Glasgow joins thirteen US colleges and universities that have already made this commitment. Five of those institutions are in California, but the two statewide educational research systems are not yet included — the University of California and California State University. And Stanford University has begun divestment from coal stocks only. There is much more to be done in the state, and 350 Bay Area is supporting students and alumni working to change their institutions' policies.
McKibben called today's decision “a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement,” pointing out the centrality of Glasgow to the birth of the industrial revolution. Naomi Klein added that students are "sending an unequivocal message that fossil fuel profits are illegitimate – on par with tobacco and arms profits."
The moral arguments for divestment are clear. As Bill McKibben sums it up: "If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage."
The financial arguments are, admittedly, more speculative, as is the nature of any financial prediction. Nevertheless, there is much evidence for the likelihood that investments in fossil-fuel companies will become increasingly risky over the next few years. The logic is this:
- The current valuation of fossil-fuel companies is based, in large part, on the prospective market value of the coal, oil, and gas reserves which they own and plan to sell.
- If catastrophic climate change is to be averted, a large percentage of those reserves (an estimated 70-80%) must remain in the ground, unsold and unburned.
- As the effects of climate change become ever clearer, governments will increasingly implement policies to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, in the form of regulations, carbon taxes, mandatory cap-and-trade regimes, and subsidies for renewable energy.
- As the associated costs increase and renewables become less expensive, fossil-fuel supply will eventually outstrip demand, and it will become uneconomical to extract the reserves, beginning with the dirtiest and the most expensive.
- These unextracted reserves will become stranded assets; valuation of fossil-fuel companies will be reduced; and the carbon bubble will deflate.
The next meeting of the 350 Bay Area divestment campaigns will be at the 350.org office, 1729 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, 7:00-9:00 pm Monday, October 6. Click here for details and to RSVP.
In Oakland and in New York—and around the world—divestment activists joined thousands of others in the exhilarating People's Climate March, and 350 Bay Area members were there.
In Oakland, the emphasis was on reinvestment in green energy (top two photos). Four thousand people rallied at Lake Merritt to demonstrate their conviction that we must address the dangers of climate change.
In New York, climate justice was front and center, along with a call for a fossil free California (bottom two photos). Marchers started along Central Park West, and 400,000 people joined in one of the largest marches the city has ever seen, leading up to the UN Climate Summit.
Students campaign for divestment!
The University of California Regents met in San Francisco September 17 and 18 to vote on investment policies. While they failed to support divestment from fossil fuels, their statement on sustainable investment left the door open to further consideration of divestment. More information is available at the Fossil Free UC website. The university belongs to the public, and it must stop funding the companies that are crippling the planet.