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Monday, November 16, 2015

Strategic CSR - Divestment

In light of the upcoming COP 21 Summit in Paris (beginning November 30),
this week's Newsletters will focus on issues related to climate change.
The blogpost in the url below from Mallen Baker (Foreword, pxxiv) is one of the best pieces I have seen about the fossil fuel divestment campaign. As usual, Mallen cuts through the emotion driving the issue to focus on why it is short-sighted and completely misses the point:
"It is dumb to demonise oil companies for providing the fossil fuels that society currently needs to function, and then blaming them for the fact those fuels get burnt as though all the pollution it causes is their fault, not the fault of those of us who use the energy for heating, lighting, technology and transport. Moving society away from fossil fuel energy is a priority, but punishing companies that provide such fuel in the mean time – as though what they do is morally reprehensible – is blatant hypocrisy. If the fossil fuel industry shut up shop tomorrow, we would be in big trouble, and the poorest in society would be in the biggest trouble first."
I would add to this that the degree to which fossil fuels currently drive the whole economy means that, by definition, it is impossible to divest from their effects via investments in the stock market. Focusing on the oil companies themselves misses the point that all firms rely on fossil fuels. As such, if you are truly going to divest from oil investments, you need to get out of the stock market completely (and never buy anything from any company ever again):
"The simple fact is that climate change is a problem common to us all. The solution will either be a common solution, or it won't be a solution. Campaigns that rely on us ignoring the fact that top executives also have families and children and a stake of the future, and assumes that they want knowingly to destroy the planet so they can drive a Porche today are campaigns that have more to do with the prejudices and short-sightedness of the campaigners than they do a realistic and actionable plan to achieve sustainability."
Yes, we need to move away from fossil fuels, but we need the oil companies on our side to achieve that. The best proposal I have seen about how to do this involves, in some way, paying the energy companies to keep their resources in the ground (see Strategic CSR – Divestment).
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Why demonising fossil fuel companies is wrong
By Mallen Baker
July 2, 2015