Divestment for Social Change

Kent Walton
Photo: Flickr/Doubichlou14

HONORING THE ANCIENT adage to “put your money where your mouth is,” Roanoke Friends in Virginia organized a meeting after worship to inform members about divesting from fossil fuel companies.
Presented by the Meeting’s Peace and Social Justice Committee, Roanoke Friend and financial advisor Tom Nasta joined me in delivering a slide presentation which featured “Moral and Political Reasons to Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies.”

Points included:

  • Stop aligning yourself and your institutions with the industry that has driven climate change. 
  • Start aligning yourself with the companies that share your values and promote energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture.
  • Build a climate change movement that supports sensible policies to curb climate change.

“Divestment,” asserted Nasta, “also reduces power of industry trade associations, front groups, lobbyists and paid experts to influence legislation, regulation, and public discourse.”

Positive financial results are becoming increasingly associated with fossil fuel-free investments as portfolio managers seek out companies “taking advantage of demand for greener industries and a low-carbon future.”
“Investment companies have taken notice of the growing popularity of fossil fuel divestment,” stated Nasta. “Today, there is a wide selection of funds that allow investors to adequately diversify while remaining true to their personal values.”

“The first step is knowledge. The next step is action,” said Nasta.  “You may need to talk to your financial planner, asset manager, or your workplace HR representative to move your money or to increase your low carbon and fossil-free investment options.”

Roanoke Friends shared excerpts from QEW’s pamphlet Divestment as Lived Faith:

  • “The origins of responsible investing can be dated back to the Quaker Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1758, prohibiting members from participating in the slave trade—buying or selling humans.”
  • “Fossil fuel companies are polluting the public discourse by their dishonesty about the effects of climate change and their funding of climate change deniers.”
  • “Fossil fuel companies’ very significant financial contributions to elected officials undermine our democracy and thus the equality of all citizens.  Friends (should) hold deep concern for the disproportionate impact climate change is having on children, the elderly and those living in poverty.”
Kent Walton is member of Roanoke Friends Meeting in Virigina.