Energy: Change or Be Changed

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Human nature often resists change. We struggle with moving from familiar surroundings to new, unknown territories. Yet, when it comes to the greatest single challenge we face today, our resistance to change will surely cause massive, uncontrollable, and unforeseeable changes.

Climate change is upon us. We know with certainty that our behavior is impacting the planet we inhabit. The last time atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were this high was millions of years ago, long before Homo sapiens appeared. This places us in an entirely new era of risk, for which we have no precedent or reliable benchmark.

Climate change is the ultimate systemic risk. Its potential impacts will be global and will be disproportionately afflicted on the most vulnerable members of our civilization. Its profound disruptions will result in the indiscriminate extinction of species. Those who are most vulnerable to the changes brought on by climate change will be those who have least contributed to it.

Many individuals and organizations are considering divestment of fossil fuel companies in their investment portfolios. New York State Senator Liz Krueger proposed legislation for divestment of fossil fuel companies from its public pension funds, the Rockefeller Foundation announced their intention to divest, and more than 500 institutions and individuals with assets in excess of $3.4 trillion have taken steps towards fossil fuel divestment.

Among the most powerful arguments for the effectiveness of divestment campaigns is the promotion of the public debate and resulting influence on public policy. This was particularly true in the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1970s and 1980s. The short-term goal was to improve corporations’ race relations under apartheid, but its ultimate goal was the orderly dismantling of the apartheid legal system itself.

Read more from Carol Laible, CEO of Domini Social Investments. Carole is responsible for the overall operations of Domini Social Investments, including both research and mutual fund operations. She serves on the Domini Standards Committee to define, clarify, and implement Domini’s Global Investment Standards. Posted in the July/August 2016 issue of the GreenMoney Journal:

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