Five reasons to divest from fossil fuels

Thursday 12-03-2015 - 17:04

Over the UK, 25,000 students and staff are putting pressure on their institutions to pull their money out of fossil fuel companies. Why? Here’s five reasons.

1. Just do the maths.

We need to get off fossil fuels if we want any chance of a sustainable future.

Almost all climate scientists agree that keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree average rise is crucial to any chance of keeping a stable climate.

If we burned all of our fossil fuel reserves, we’d be emitting five times the safe amount of carbon. We can’t support an industry committed to doing that.

2. We shouldn’t be afraid to act on principle.

Critics of the divestment movement say it doesn’t make a difference. It won’t bankrupt the companies. Someone else will just buy the stock.

This misses the point. Divestment is about distancing ourselves from what we oppose, as well as damaging the social standing of fossil fuel companies. Shifting public opinion is half the battle.

Universities and colleges are respected institutions. It says a lot when they make a stand.

3. We’ve done it in the past

Divestment isn’t something the climate movement made up. It’s been an essential campaign tool throughout history.

It was a huge part of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, for instance. And more recently in the UK, health companies mounted a divestment campaign against the tobacco industry from the 1980s.

Some forms of divestment are just second nature now. Would you expect your university to be investing in the arms industry?

4. Our money can go to better use.

Of course, it’s all well and good to pull our money out of things we don’t like. It’s fine to be against things. But we need to be for something too.

One of the best things about divestment is that it frees up money. And then we can do something better with it.

Imagine if everybody who pulled their money out of fossil fuels decided to invest that money in alternatives to fossil fuels instead. Imagine how quickly we could make progress on the solutions to our social, economic and environmental problems.

5. We can create a better world.

The fossil fuel industry is getting more and more desperate. They’re fracking under our own homes in the UK, and wrecking some of our most cherished habitats across the world.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that these companies value profit over people and planet.

It’s still possible to create a sustainable world which is fairer and more prosperous for everyone. If that’s what we want, taking on the fossil fuel industry is vital. And our universities and colleges should be leading the way.

Join your local Fossil Free group, or start your own.

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