Why divestment if, arguably, it won’t hurt fossil fuel companies?

by Andrea Loken, science Teacher and ECA co-founder

It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Divestment is working – for what we want to achieve.

Divestment is not about hurting the fossil fuel companies in the short term. It may be true that within our current economic model, to sell off stocks in fossil fuel companies just means that someone else will buy them, causing no net harm and the industry will chug along.

Divestment is about exposing fossil fuel companies and the elites who run them as morally reprehensible; it is about choosing alternative, sustainable energy sources; and it is about creating a new model for our economic system that works for more than just the 1%.

On the first point: In one of the articles in the grounding breaking series about climate change published by the Guardian newspaper, an excellent analogy was made to slavery. Slavery was and is profitable. But as society has shifted its ideas, slavery is now considered by most to be an offensive practice. The human suffering and cost is simply not acceptable. Fossil fuel companies should be seen in this way. They should not be allowed to operate, let alone profit, at the cost of wrecking our life support systems.

Secondly, we already know how to produce energy sustainably. A new energy grid could be de-centralized, diverse and reliable. We can also become massively more efficient with local consumption and co-generation of energy. Communities around the world are already doing this. In addition, we need to stop viewing the planet as our smorgasbord – gluttonously consuming everything we can and treating the earth as our trash can. This mentality is fruitfully broken down by the good folks at the Story of Stuff Project.

Thirdly, as mentioned in our last post, our economic system isn’t working. It has worked wonderfully in the last 30 years to transfer wealth from the public sphere to a few elite. No one organism is more entitled to the earth’s resources than any other. But somehow we have become conditioned to believe that a certain amount of greed is okay; some people must work harder than others and therefore must deserve more. Here is an article (and the abridged version), written by a member of this super-elite who explains the folly in this type of thinking.

The same forces that have decimated indigenous people all over the world, have oppressed minorities of every kind, and fostered violence against women, are now attacking labour. The point is to divide and conquer – to have us fighting each other rather than working together to reject the corporate enslavement and build a better model. “Another world is possible,” is a common chant of youth at climate rallies and other protests all around the world. Make no mistake; we WILL build a better world and it may need to break the current system first. As climate activist, Tim DeChristopher, puts it in this speech, “maybe we are trying to ruin the economy.” We want nothing less than a world where everyone can thrive and prosper. It is entirely possible. Watch this profoundly moving video by spoken word artist Shane Koyczan. “We can do this.”

* * * * *

p.s. Please consider sharing our blog/posts and petition on your social media platform or share with friends and colleagues via email. If we are to affect change as quickly as is necessary, we really need everyone to become involved. All of us have a stake in our pensions and care about a planet that is livable in the future. The urgency is only going to become more and more apparent. No one is coming to save us. The power is within ourselves – each individual – to change the current system. We hope you can join the growing chorus!


  1. educatorsclimate · January 27, 2016

    Reblogged this on educators climate alliance and commented:

    We are reposting some posts from last year when we followed up on questions raised during the OSSTF divestment campaign at AMPA 2015. Now we’re gearing up for AMPA 2016! Thanks for reading.


  2. Pingback: Our letter to OSSTF Presidents/Executive | educators climate alliance
  3. Pingback: Teachers urge $175 billion pension fund to flex muscle on climate change | educators climate alliance
    • educatorsclimate · May 11, 2017

      Hi Rebecca. Sorry we didn’t see this comment in time! In the future, we would be happy to share such an event. If you email us directly at educatorsclimate@gmail.com, we will be more able to respond quickly. Thanks!


  4. Pingback: Answering your divestment questions | educators climate alliance

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