Making your money work for good
Do you have a retirement fund? An investment account? Checking or savings accounts? Credit cards?
Then you have a chance to make your banking and/or investments reflect your concern about climate change.
The divestment movement was launched in 2012 by Bill McKibben and 350.org in their Do the Math tour, traveling around the US to point out that in order for the Earth to stay below 2°C of warming, fossil fuel companies will have to keep most of their massive reserves in the ground. The campaign first resonated with U.S. colleges and universities, foundations, and faith-based
organizations, but quickly spread to large insurers, pension funds, and banking institutions.
According to a December 2016 report by Arabella Advisors, “the value of assets represented by institutions and individuals committing to some sort of divestment from fossil fuel companies has
reached $5 trillion. To date, 688 institutions and 58,399 individuals across 76 countries have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies, doubling the value of assets represented in the last 15 months.”
What does it mean to divest from fossil fuels?
Divestment means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds from companies involved in the extraction of fossil fuels. Doing your banking with banks that do not that finance the fossil fuel industry has a similar effect.
Who can divest?
Divestment can be done both by individual investors and by large pension funds, university endowments, banking institutions, and other groups. 350.org has information on starting a divestment campaign.
How do I know what to invest in?
Ask your financial advisor about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). The resources listed below from Green America and the 350.org Fossil Free project will also give you ideas about alternative investments.
How Do I Get Started with Divesting/Reinvesting?
Talk to your financial advisor or someone from your retirement program about which of your investments include fossil fuels companies. Ask them about putting your money into investments free of fossil fuels. Clients are now asking about these issues more frequently; as more people ask, the more it is that the financial industry will respond.
Green America offers a step-by-step guide to divestment/reinvestment and includes a list of financial planners and asset management firms that understand the importance of fossil fuel company divestment.
Fossil Free, a project of 350.org, offers four steps to divest-reinvest.
Fossil Free Funds offers a way for people to find out if their money, in the form of individual investments or an employer-provided 401(k), is being used to extract and consume fossil fuels.
How do I find out if my bank is financing fossil fuels or conflict palm oil plantations?
One easy way is to do an internet search: “[your bank’s name] palm oil” or [your bank’s name] fossil fuels.” You may be surprised at what you find.
The Rainforest Action Network has a “Shorting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016”
Banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline are listed here.
Some people like to support local banks. Bank Local provides information about local banks that invest in the community