The Climate Math
We can only burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming – anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their coal, oil, and gas reserves, five times the safe amount. These companies must keep 80% of their fossil fuels underground, meaning that 80% will become stranded assets. From a financial perspective, current developments raise serious questions as to the long-term wisdom of retaining investments in entities holding these stranded assets as their chief source of wealth.
Based on the climate math, we believe it is a moral imperative to divest from the dirty energy that is significantly degrading the climate, and to reinvest in climate solutions.
Divestment campaigns work in part by removing the social license as well as the economic and political power that will allow the companies to continue to burn the carbon in their reserves. Our institutions must draw a hard line against an industry whose actions result in the degradation of communities across the planet, and the destabilization of our climate. They must say that they refuse to provide financial support by holding equity in business models that are wrecking the planet.
Fossil-fuels divestment is good investment strategy. Funds will benefit by switching from assets that will inevitably remain locked underground for new, state of the art industries and technologies. Oil companies themselves have recognized the threat of climate change from excess greenhouse gas emissions, and are now supportive of putting a price on carbon. A price on carbon will negatively impact the price of fossil fuel stocks in the long term, making divestment a wise decision.
How to divest the City of Chicago from fossil fuels?
We are building grassroots support in Chicago to divest the city’s operations budget and pension funds from fossil fuels. Grassroots support will encourage the Chicago City Council to pass a resolution to immediately freeze any new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies* and divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.
Building support from pensioners and union members will pressure the Pension Boards to divest Chicago pension money as well.
(Interested in learning more about divesting from fossil fuels in your own investment portfolio and retirement accounts? See our Divestment for Individuals information.)
*The top 200 fossil fuel companies as listed in The Carbon Underground 200TM, a list of the top 100 public coal companies globally and the top 100 public oil and gas companies globally, ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. The Carbon Underground 200 is updated quarterly.