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Jan/Feb 2013


Why Divestment?

Green America’s Martha van Gelder talked with a diverse group of environmental and social justice leaders about why they’re involved in the fossil fuel divestment movement. Find out more about climate divestment from the Green American and from


Rev. Dr. Jim Antal
Dr. Robert Bullard
Kyuwon Kim
Antal Bullard Kim

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“Every faith shares the perspective that Creation is God’s; it’s not ours. Over the past 200 years, humanity has ceded to entities that we now call corporations the right to be intermediaries for humanity in relation to God’s Creation. ... So now we need to take back our own direct relationship with God’s Creation. Informed by science, we recognize that we must leave at least 80 percent of the known carbon reserves in the ground."

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“I think climate change as an environmental issue is often presented in a way that glosses over the disparate impact on populations. ... It’s the same vulnerable communities that oftentimes are hit hardest by industrial pollution, by dirty coal fired power plants, and by all kinds of industrial operations that contribute to these things."

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“[My friends] Elysia, Yasmin, and I have studied the environment in some way or another. Universities are leading the way in terms of sustainability and leadership. [The fact that our university was invested in fossil fuels] disheartened us, and we
thought it was hypocritical that these great institutions that are investing a lot in sustainability research are also investing in unethical activities and unsustainable industries.”

Chloe Maxmin
Mayor Mike McGinn
Dr. Stephen Mulkey
Maxmin McGinn Mulkey

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"I think that [divestment is] powerful for a few reasons. One is that it's a very clear moral argument. We're saying we don't want our university to be investing in companies that are threatening our futures. It's counter-productive to everything they're teaching us, and it doesn't align with the values espoused on campus."


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"It’s important when you’re a public entity that when you spend your dollars, you do so in a way that is consistent with the values of the people that live in the place. And Seattle has been, and I hope will continue to be, a leader in trying to build an environmentally sustainable economy, one that’s fair and economically vibrant."

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“Universities and colleges across the board have a special responsibility to take action. Our charge is to renew civilization. That being the case, it is ethically inconsistent to invest in its destruction. I’m extremely frustrated with the academic community for being quiet in the face of this crisis. They’re the ones who really know what’s happening. ... But I do think that if students will speak with one voice, they ultimately hold the key to the future of higher education."


Lauren Ressler
Rev. Lennox Yearwood
Ressler Yearwood  

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"Now we’re trying to focus on the reinvestment side of the [fossil-fuel divestment] campaign as well. We want to make sure that the solution is robust. ... We want to see community investing and reinvestment in wind and solar and the technologies that currently need a lot of financing and aren’t getting it."

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"The most important thing, I think, is that we have moved the climate movement from, in essence, playing defense, to playing offense. We are really raising awareness at a number of black colleges so they understand the important role that communities of color have played in the world of divestment, related to divesting from South Africa, and also the climate movement."






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