“What’s the rush? Won’t the market address global warming at some point? Is divestment really the right approach?” Other “sensible” policy tools haven’t worked yet and the stakes are getting higher every day.
Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – Bill McKibben – “When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math.”
2 degrees Celsius: The “safe” level of global temperature rise that the most conservative governments agreed to at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference. 565 gigatons: “Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. (“Reasonable,” in this case, means four chances in five, or somewhat worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter.)” 2795 gigatons: “The number describes the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies. In short, it’s the fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn. And the key point is that this new number – 2,795 – is higher than 565. Five times higher.
The Fossil Fuel Resistance – Bill McKibben – The struggle against climate change isn’t about buying a Prius or changing your lightbulbs anymore. “You need to try to change the system that is raising the temperature, the sea level, the extinction rate – even raising the question of how well civilization will survive this century.”
NPR’s This American Life – “Host Ira Glass tells the story of writer turned activist Bill McKibben. McKibben is trying to reinvent progressive politics when it come to climate change. He’s attempting to create a divestment campaign modeled after the successful campaign against apartheid in South Africa. The campaign is designed recast the discussion of climate change with fossil fuel companies as the villains. (18 minutes)”
“But won’t divestment hurt our endowment? Fossil fuel investments bring in a lot of money.” Check out these articles on why fossil fuel investments are increasingly risky investments. Divesting could be positive for our endowment.
Green Alpha Financial Advisors – The economic case for divestment
The Wall Street Journal on the Carbon Bubble – “You’re familiar with the dot com bubble and U.S. housing bubble…But have you heard of the carbon bubble?”
The Associated Press – “The firm calculated the total returns of the broad U.S. market as tracked by the S&P 500 index, with and without the companies singled out by Fossil Free. An endowment of $1 billion that excluded fossil fuel companies would have grown to $2.26 billion over the past 10 years, but an endowment that included investments in fossil fuel companies would have grown to $2.14 billion. That extra $119 million could pay for 850 four-year scholarships, assuming tuition of $35,000 per year.”
The Economist – Unburnable fuel: Either governments are not serious about climate change or fossil fuel firms are overvalued.
The New York Times – An Earth Day Debate: Is There a Carbon Bubble? (This article is full of great links to other info.)
Financial Advisor Magazine – “Growing signs of climate change may be the reason that more clients of some advisors are interested in portfolios without shares of fossil-fuel companies.”
Aperio Group – Building a carbon free portfolio
Harvard Law School – ESG (investments that consider Environment, Social and Governance) and socially responsible screening has been shown to strengthen financial returns in some cases, and is not proven to harm returns.
United Nations – ESG criteria linked to stronger performance
Inside Higher Ed – A discussion of Swarthmore’s financial projection and its potential problems
American Petroleum Institute – Oil and Gas performed at an average of 7.9% for college endowments, less than the carbon free mutual funds.