If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage
The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. Chapters have opened up in more than 100 US cities and states as well as on more than 300 campuses, where students are holding protests, debates and sit-ins to pressure their to rid their endowments of oil, gas and coal holdings.
And under the "Fossil Free UK" banner, the movement is now crossing the Atlantic, with a major push planned by People & Planet for this summer. Some schools, including University College London, have decided not to wait and already have active divestment campaigns.
Though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and, in late April, 10 US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago).
There are still all kinds of details to work out to toughen up these pledges, but the speed with which this idea has spread makes it clear that there was some serious pent-up demand. To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels." I am proud to have been part of the group at 350.org that worked with students and other partners to develop the Fossil Free campaign. But I now realise that an important target is missing from the list: the environmental organisations themselves.
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