Take the money from oil, gas and coal

The fossil fuel industry needs money. Lots of money. And some of the main investors are universities, churches, foundations or pensions funds. But if fossil fuels are destroying the planet, why should those institutions support them?  Or, indeed, gain from dirty industries?

That is the idea behind the global “divestment” campaign:  take the money from oil, gas and coal extraction and invest it in clean technology. The same tactics were succesful during the 80’s against the South African apartheid.

This student grassroot campaign was born in US campuses and it is gaining momentum. A landmark achievement was the commitment made in 2014 by the Rockfeller Brothers Fund to divest from fossil fuels. Even though this is not the biggest fund, the fact that it is managed by descendant of the oil tycoon Rockefeller made of this commitment a big symbolic victory.

And the campaign have already crossed the ocean. Last year Glasgow was the first European university to divest from fossil fuels. Now more institutions from England and Sweeden have made the same commitment. Even counties and cities in Europe, Australia and New Zeland have commited too.

Many religious figures also support that call. 350.org list a huge number of churches that already have supported divestment and there is also specific campaign to influence Pope Francis to take Vatican funds out of fossil fuels. Archbishop Desdmond Tutu has also publicly supported  the campaign:

From Ireland, Mary Robinson has praised and supported the campaign for divestment and has linked it with the climate justice ethos that the former Irish president stand up for all over the world:

The active role of young people is worth noting. As with the anti-apartheid campaign in the 1980s, students today are taking action that can determine their futures – and the futures of generations to come – for the better. They are showing the world that, once again, a transformation in how we grow our economies is essential. This is how inter-generational equity can be achieved: promoting a new investment model that responds to the risks posed by climate change. By avoiding investment in high-carbon assets that become obsolete, and by prioritising sustainable alternatives, we build capacity and resilience, particularly for more vulnerable people – while lowering carbon emissions.


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