This week, the long fight against climate change reached a small but significant milestone as Oslo became the first capital city to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Oslo’s announcement that it will be divesting $7 million of coal investments makes it the latest city to join a campaign gathering support and momentum. The Guardian’s “Keep it in the Ground” and Fossil Free are two campaigns driving the increased focus on divestment. But what is fossil fuel divestment? And how can it change things for the better?
What is Fossil Fuel Divestment?
Divestment is simply the opposite of investment. Instead of buying stocks and bonds in fossil fuel corporations, increasing numbers of people take their money out of this sector and move it into more ethical investments. As the climate crisis becomes more acute, we are becoming increasingly reluctant to make personal financial gain from investments that prolong and deepen the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. While individual divestments barely cause a stir in a multi-billion dollar industry, collective action is an effective way to send a message. And the news is starting to get through. Already the industry is on the defensive, and its propaganda machine is well-oiled with cash. But its counter-attacks are based on myths and are designed to scare us into favouring short-term security when the looming threat of climate change on the world is a much more urgent incentive.
Where’s it Happening?
Oslo is just the latest city to announce its fossil fuel divestment plans. It joins a growing list of counties, cities, colleges, and organizations committed to joining the Fossil Free campaign. Over forty cities around the world have already dropped investments in the fossil fuel industry, including major US cities such as Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle, and Stanford University is one of over twenty schools to do the same. In addition, climate scientists are putting pressure on science and art museums in the USA to sever their ties with the fossil fuels industry. The Guardian newspaper calls on the Welcome Trust and the Gates Foundation to divest from coal, oil and gas. The future is looking bright for the campaign: the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is under pressure to free £4.8 million (around $7 million) after the London Assembly voted in favour of a motion brought by the UK Green Party. If London follows in the footsteps of Oslo, the campaign really will be unstoppable.
What can you do?
The easiest is to join over 140,000 others by adding your name to The Guardian’s “Keep it in the Ground” campaign. Make sure to sign up for our latest blogs and updates! Connect with us on social media and join this conversation today!