We’ve shared posts in the past that deal with the subject of ethical financial divestment, or the act of divesting funds and portfolios away from the production and refinement of coal, oil, and natural gas. This move represents a comparatively low-effort, high-impact decision for many individuals and institutions, since the fossil fuel industry gains substantial oxygen from institutional portfolios (universities, 401Ks, health systems, etc). Ride-sharing and turning off unused appliances can make a difference, and so can similar moves on behalf of institutions and companies. But conservation should go hand in hand with broad financial decisions that reallocate funds to cleaner and greener businesses.
With that in mind, some conscientious investors are working toward both divestment from fossil fuels AND investment in solar and renewable money-makers that can still carry them toward retirement (in the case of individuals) and financial stability (institutions and non-profits.) The New York Times recently introduced us to an organization that facilitates this process, called DivestInvest (www.Divestinvest.org). Targeting healthcare institutions, trust funds, foundations, governments, private companies and individuals, the organization takes pledges from those who are willing to commit to its global clean energy goals. Not sure where to put your recently- or soon-to-be divested holdings? Check in with DivestInvest to find organizations who have taken the pledge.
If you have the freedom to do so (which individuals typically do while institutions sometimes do not), review your portfolio and make some changes…but be careful. You’ll still need to choose funds and vehicles that meet your standards regarding returns and fee structures, and some commitments are more extensive than others. In total, the organizations and individuals who have taken the pledge have managed assets totaling six trillion USD, including foundations that have agreed to commit five percent of their holdings to clean and renewable technologies.
As is often the case, these efforts may not be quite enough to bring us closer to a collective tipping point at which we alter the trajectory of increasing fossil fuel use. But every action that slows the rise can be considered a move toward the ultimate goal: achieving a change in course before we reach an all-important global two-degree increase. Momentum in either direction matters as much as course and speed, and DivestInvest seems to be driving momentum by reducing the feeling of risk associated with investment shifts. By normalizing the process of conscientious reallocation, they’re paving the way for the rest of us.