A new movement to divest from fossil fuels

Are you old enough to remember the movement to get colleges and universities to divest from South Africa? Bill McKibben’s group, 350.org, launched a similar effort to get schools to dump their investments in fossil fuels companies.

200 publicly-traded companies hold the vast majority of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. Those are the companies we’re asking our institutions to divest from. Our demands to these companies are simple, because they reflect the stark truth of climate science:

They need immediately to stop exploring for new hydrocarbons.

They need to stop lobbying in Washington and state capitols across the country to preserve their special breaks.

Most importantly, they need to pledge to keep 80% of their current reserves underground forever.

Would the fight against climate change benefit from a divestment movement?

Here’s another artifact from anti-apartheid movement, Artists United Against Apartheid, featuring Bono, Joey Ramone, Ruben Blades, Run DMC, and Bob Dylan:

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • jimmy

    So, Bill McKibben is on a “tour” around the USA pushing his agenda.

    Just how, Mr. McKibben, do you get from city to city? Walk? Run? Flap your arms?

    Or do you burn fossil fuels?

    I know, I know. You are doing “God’s Work”, so, therefore, you have exempted yourself from the logic you profess. Typical self-serving liberal.

    When you live without the use of fossil fuels, raise every bit of the food you eat, etc., then you can talk. Otherwise, you are the same as Exxon Mobil Corporation. No difference at all. The McKibben Corporation, burning fossil fuels everyday.

  • Brian
  • Charli

    I go to school at NDSU in Fargo, ND. The campus is run almost solely on coal. There is recycling for newspaper, plastic bottles, and aluminum soda cans only! To help battle global warming and pollution, I bring all of my recycling home to the twin cities where I can recycle freely.

  • Stephanie Curtis, The Daily Circuit

    Bill McKibben travels on a bio-fuel bus.

  • jimmy

    And, exactly how much fossil fuels were burned in the manufacture of that bus?

    The maintenance of that bus? The tires for that bus? The trucks that haul the bio-fuel to the stations where Mr. McKibben can buy it and put it in that bus?

    Fact is, Mr. McKibben is a fossil fuel burner, just like everyone else. He is responsible for Climate Change/Global Warming, just like anyone else. No amount of holier-than-thou attitude can change the fact that he is just the same as the rest of us.

    I bet Mr. McKibben has a computer. And an I-phone. And a thousand other items produced by the burning of fossil fuels. And eats foods produced by burning fossil fuels. One should not talk the talk if one does not walk the walk.

  • RalphSki

    First fact about 200 publicly trade companies controlling most of the resource is total bull. Large state owned companies (Aramco, Napims, PEMEX, etc) hold the vast majority of the proved reserves. They also do a huge volume of the exploration these days. The “profit” these companies make fuel up to 90 of these countries social spending and usually accounts for >50% of the GDP. Good luck telling them what to do. That’s like telling a farmer to stop growing food. Sad that misinformation like this is allowed to spread and fuel ignorance about global economic factors.

  • Stephanie Curtis

    Combined, these top 200 companies are equivalent to around 27% of the global proven fossil fuel reserves, in terms of their carbon dioxide emissions potential.

    While 27% is a lot, Ralphski’s math is better than 350.org’s. It does not make a “vast majority.” The quote above IS from a study cited by 350.org.

  • Chris

    @Jimmy, stop being a naysayer b/c you want to troll the internet. It is Scientific FACT that fossil fuels are a limited resource. If for no other reason you support renewable energy, that should be reason enough. Add in the impact that we are having on our environment, change is a must. It will come, will you be left behind choking on car exhaust? Honestly, hope closed minded people like you do.

  • Mary

    Producing more wind and solar energy takes metals like copper (lots of it), nickel, and platinum to name a few. Perhaps Mr. McKibbon should explain this to fellow “environmantalists” who don’t think we should mine for these metals here, in this country, where the environmental standards are higher than anywhere else in the world.

    According to a US Geological Survey report (SIR 2011-5036) regarding wind turbines.

    “The results of the study suggest that achieving the market goal of 20 percent by 2030 would require an average annual consumption of about 6.8 million metric tons of concrete, 1.5 million metric tons of steel, 310,000 metric tons of cast iron, 40,000 metric tons of copper, and 380 metric tons of the rare-earth element neodymium. With the exception of neodymium, these material requirements represent less than 3 percent of the U.S. apparent consumption for 2008. Recycled material could supply about 3 percent of the total steel required for wind turbine production from 2010 through 2030, 4 percent of the aluminum required, and 3 percent of the copper required.”

    I seems to me that rather than marching around Washington with signs, 350.org should be talking to our politicians about speeding up the mining of these metals in our country.

    Otherwise, they are being quite hypocritcal.

  • Brian

    Mary,

    According to those USGS numbers, if we only reduced our consumption by 3% we would have enough of these materials to achieve the goal of 20% for wind power by 2030. I did the math.

    Except for neodymium. We’ll have to ask the Chinese for that.

    It seems much easier and less destructive to reduce consumption by 3% rather than risk the water quality of our lakes.

  • Mary

    Brian,

    You must be using some new math. If we would need 40,000 metric tons of copper annually and 3% of that could come from recycled materials, then we would still need 38,800 metric tons of NEW copper each year to achieve the 20%.

    In otherwords, to get to where we would only need to use the recycled copper, we would need to reduce our consumption by 97% and I doubt that’s likely to happen.