Why Divest Fossil Fuels?

Divestment, the process of selling an asset for either financial or social goals, is a powerful tool that investors can use to show companies that they cannot and will not invest in detrimental or morally objectionable practices. Divestment can be a profound step when an investor decides to make a statement by withdrawing financial support from a corporation that is abusing the environment, the community, or larger society.

Divestment campaigns at the college level have a strong history of success. Colleges across the country participated in the South African divestment campaign in the 1970s and 1980s, with 155 colleges partially or completely divested from companies that traded or had operations in South Africa. More recently, in 2006, institutions like Harvard, Brown, Amherst, and the University of California system voted to withdraw billions of dollars from companies with Sudanese ties as a statement against the country’s genocide of Sudanese civilians. Divestment is an opportunity to expose the real financial liability of investing in a company, country, or industry, and to remove the financial support that enables that them to operate according to business as usual.

The power of divestment comes from the larger movement that surrounds the financial action. Our movement is elevating the human health and environmental impacts of fossil fuel combustion and extraction in local frontline communities and impacts of climate change on the Global South and the entire planet's future. By challenging business-as-usual, we can remove the industry's social license to operate both in the market and in our political sphere.