Ryan Pollin for Zondits, June 5, 2015. Image credit: PublicDomainPictures
Last week marked four new entries in the growing list of fossil fuel divestment commitments, this time by Oxford University (OU), University of Hawaii (UH), University of Edinburgh (UE), and French insurance giant Axa. Of these, only UH has moved to complete divestment from oil, coal, gas, and tar sands. UH’s Board of Regents had tasked a working group to investigate complete divestment from fossil fuels, and found it to be prudent to “galvanize the University community as well as the greater community to take action to invest in the production of alternative energy…”Axa, OU, and UE all face criticism by their respective divestment advocates for not going the distance, and expect their campaigns to continue. Axa states that their decision was motivated by “building better alignment with Axa’s corporate responsibility strategy to build a stronger, safer, and more sustainable society,” and that it was an effort in “de-risking” its investment portfolio.
If anyone should have a handle on the risks associated with climate change, it should be an insurance corporation.
WHAT IS FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT?
Go Fossil Free
Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.
When you invest your money, you might buy stocks, bonds, or other investments that generate income for you. Universities (and colleges in the US), religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions put billions in these same kinds of investments to generate income to help them run. Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors and the planet, so we’re calling on institutions to divest from these companies.