News Ahead of Global Divestment Day: February 12, 13

Global Divestment Day is this week, with events occurring across the world this Friday and Saturday, February 13-14. See below to find an event near you.   

Since we last wrote about the move to divest from fossil fuels, several universities and Norway’s pension fund have stopped supporting many of the companies fueling climate change.

The biggest news comes from Norway, where the country’s pension fund has pulled out of coal, tar sands, cement and gold mining – the most polluting processes on earth. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global has dumped $50 billion from 185 polluter stocks from its $850 billion portfolio.

"Our risk-based approach means that we exit sectors and areas where we see elevated levels of risk to our investments in the long term," spokesperson Marthe Skaar, told The Guardian.  "Companies with particularly high greenhouse gas emissions may be exposed to risk from regulatory or other changes leading to a fall in demand."

Global Divest Day events:

Divest Day

Goddard College in Vermont announced it has divested and shifted management of its endowment to social financial advisor, Trillium Asset Management. Goddard joins Sterling and Green Mountain College in that state.

And the first state system to divest is University of Maine, after a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees. They agreed to divest from coal, but Divest UMaine – which campaigned for more than two years – says it will keep pushing to extend divestment to all fossil fuels. The money will support clean energy sources instead. Maine’s Unity College was the first school to divest.

While Stanford University was among the first to announce  divestment from coal, 300 faculty members sent Trustees a letter urging they drop all fossil fuel holdings. It is signed by a former president of the university, Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and physics and math, among many others.

"Given that the university has signaled its awareness of the dangers posed by fossil fuels, what are the implications of Stanford’s making only a partial confrontation with this danger?," the letter asks. "The urgency and magnitude of climate change call not for partial solutions, however admirable: they demand the more profound and thorough commitment embodied in divestment from all fossil-fuel companies."

Not even a letter from hundreds of faculty members at Harvard could convince the university to divest, however. Even after being sued by students, Harvard increased investments by a factor of seven in oil and gas  companies, to almost $80 million, reports Divest Harvard.

"That’s blood money. It is making money out of something we see as fundamentally illicit," Jim Recht, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told The Guardian. Indeed, Anadarko Petroleum received the largest, single investment at $57.4 million – after being a central player in BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster and being fined $5 billion for toxic waste sites.

Students at Georgetown University are also disappointed that a vote failed on divesting from the 100 largest coal companies and 100 largest oil and gas companies. Instead, the Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility recommends divesting over time from coal producers that have the worst environmental impact and are least responsive to strategic engagement efforts," says student paper, The Hoya.

The committee also stated that Georgetown should "proactively engage energy companies" to alter harmful environmental practices through shareholder engagement, and should continue its "significant and ongoing work" related to climate change and sustainability.

All told, 24 universities, 37 cities, 2 counties, 69 religious institutions, and 30 foundations including Rockefeller Brothers have decided to divest. See the list here.

"Even if we only move 1% of the $400 billion in university endowments towards sustainable alternatives that’s $4 billion worth of new investments in renewable energy, says Fossil Free.

Read our article, Fossil Fuel Divestment Sweeps Through Religious Community.

Read the Rolling Stone article, The Logic of Divestment: Why We Have to Kiss Off Big Carbon Now.

Read more: Find Divestment Day events here:

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