Fossil fuel divestment

The rationale for fossil fuel divestment is explained well in the Brandeis divestment committee’s report, which you can find here: 

Letter from the committee

Fossil Fuel Divestment Report

If you are a member of the Brandeis faculty, please do sign our petition. You can read it here: Brandeis Fossil Fuel Divestment Faculty Petition updated April 23, 2015 and email Sabine von Mering (vonmering at for a link to sign the document.

If you are a Brandeis student, join the Brandeis Climate Justice group.

Arguments in favor of fossil fuel divestment

HSBC Advises Clients Against Fossil Fuel Investment

Good summary of ‘myths about fossil fuel divestment’ in Jan 2015 Rolling Stone MagazineThe Logic of Divestment

Union of Concerned Scientists.

Oxford University Study on divestment.

Article from the Huffington post.

Limits to shareholder activism.‘s Fossilfree resources.

Debate about Fossil Fuel Divestment at MIT April 9, 2015.

Addressing Counterarguments to Fossil Fuel Divestment

A few responses to the most frequently raised arguments against fossil fuel divestment:

1. The fossil fuel companies are only extracting oil and gas because we all need to use it.

Answer: Yes, we are all using fossil fuels. We cannot help it, having grown up in an economic system that is based on fossil fuel extraction. But now we know we must change it. Fossil fuel companies know that, too. Yet they hinder the transition to green renewable fuels by blocking regulation and a carbon tax, and by funding climate change denial. At this point we have no choice but to use fossil fuels, because the fossil fuel companies are not allowing alternatives to flourish (see their attempts to block solar projects and net metering, or Bill Koch’s lawsuits against Cape Wind). And although we know that we must stop fossil fuel emissions, and we already have three times the amount on reserve that can be safely burnt, the fossil fuel industry is spending billions every year on exploring new sources that they intend to realize.

2.  Removing our investments from fossil fuels will hurt our endowment.

Answer: There are several studies that show that fossil fuel free portfolios perform equally well if not better than those with fossil fuels. Everyone agrees that the most effective tool to curb carbon emissions is putting a price on carbon. Once carbon is priced realistically fossil fuel investments will lose their value and become stranded assets. This is called the carbon bubble, and our endowment will be safer if we invest in the future instead.

3. Fossil Fuel Divestment won’t stop climate change. Others will buy up the shares. It is a waste of time.

Answer: Divestment is a political tool. Its goal is to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry and destroy its political power by undermining its legitimacy. Initially, the fossil fuel industry laughed at the fossil fuel divestment movement. Nobody took it seriously. This has changed. It is the fastest growing divestment movement in history, and the industry is now paying attention.

Oxford University has published a very helpful study on fossil fuel divestment.