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Divest from Fossil Fuels!
The 350 Madison Divestment Campaign is part of an international network pressing universities and colleges (including UW–Madison), local governments, religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions to sell portfolio assets tied to fossil fuel companies and to invest in cleaner alternatives. Specifically, institutions are asked to:
- Immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies; and
- Divest within five years from current holdings in fossil fuel companies.
More political bodies, organizations, and institutions are divesting all the time, from the Madison City Council, the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and the Oslo City
Council to Stanford University, Syracuse University, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Guardian Media Group. In fact, the divestment campaign was described in a recent University of Oxford study as the fastest growing divestment campaign ever.
The divestment campaign is grounded in a simple but powerful argument based on what Bill McKibben has called “global warming’s terrifying new math”—namely, that the fossil fuel industry has in its proven reserves four times as much carbon as scientists think we can burn and still have a hope of keeping temperature rise below 2° Celsius. Given the new math, McKibben says, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization.
Thus, divestment is primarily a moral and political strategy, not an economic one. If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage. The divestment campaign seeks to:
- Challenge the legitimacy of—indeed stigmatize—the fossil fuel industry by highlighting its singularly destructive impact and the moral dimensions of the climate crisis;
- Undercut the political power of the fossil fuel lobby, making it easier for politicians to take action; and
- Warn investors that fossil fuels are a risky investment, likely to become stranded assets if the world’s nations fulfill their pledge to keep global warming below 2°Celsius by sharply cutting carbon emissions.
Start a New Divestment Campaign!
Interested in starting a divestment campaign on your campus or in your city or faith community? Find out more here. And if you do start a new campaign, please send us an email to let us know about it.
Help Us Keep the Pressure On!
To be informed about future developments and opportunities to take action, sign up for the 350 Madison email list for regular updates. You can learn more about our local “Divest UW” campaign here and the national campaign strategy here. You can learn more about divestment strategy here. A list of the top 200 fossil fuel companies ranked by the carbon content of their reserves can be found here. A list of colleges and universities, cities, counties, religious institutions, and other institutions that have made a commitment to divest is posted here, and endorsements of divestment by international figures such as Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, and Naomi Klein, here.