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By Elisabeth Noble, Manager of Donor Engagement
In December 2019, the University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors took a major step toward full divestment of its endowment funds from fossil fuels. The previous month, the European Investment Bank agreed to phase out fossil fuel lending and Concordia University announced it would divest completely from fossil fuels.
These organizations join a rapidly growing number of institutions and individuals moving their savings away from the dying fossil fuel economy and investing in a job-creating clean energy future. Total divestment commitments have grown from $2.6 trillion in 2016 to an approximately $12 trillion in 2020.
Previous divestment campaigns have successfully targeted the tobacco and gambling industries and companies funding the violence in Darfur. Divestment is perhaps most well known for its influential role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
We see three main reasons to divest from fossil fuel companies.
Firstly, like all enterprises, fossil fuel companies need shareholders to invest in them. By refusing to invest in them, we discourage further fossil fuel expansion that would harm the climate.
Secondly, those who are disproportionately affected by severe climate impacts brought on by burning fossil fuels are asking the rest of us to stop making things worse. This includes Indigenous peoples, youth, low-income communities, communities of colour, migrants and residents of the Global South. Those with the most wealth tend to produce the most emissions. They have the greatest ability, and responsibility, to change. Divesting is a moral and climate justice issue.
Lastly, fossil fuel companies are increasingly considered by many leading financiers to be an economically risky investment. In July 2019, it was reported that BlackRock, the world’s biggest fund manager, lost $90 billion over the last decade through its investments in fossil fuel companies due to ignoring global climate risk.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has been sounding the alarm about climate-related financial risks for some time. He notes that banks that ignore the dangers of continued investment in fossil fuels may cease to exist.
So what options exist for investors who want to do the right thing for the planet while protecting the growth of our savings?
1. Move your money from banks to credit unions
Many credit unions like Vancity do not invest in fossil fuels. Moving your banking and investments away from banks – who are funding tarsands expansion – towards credit unions that have made fossil fuel free commitments carries a triple impact:
- You send a message to the bank that their customers care about fossil fuel divestment and climate action. This matters.
- You reward financial institutions that have made the decision not to invest in fossil fuels.
- Credit unions are democratically controlled, community focused organizations that invest their returns back into communities to fund important projects. Vancity has been a leader in providing loans for clean energy alternatives. So your money helps support climate solutions close to home too.
2. Move personal investments such as RRSPs out of funds invested in fossil fuels.
None of us wants a future at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the next generation. Companies like Genus Capital Management offer a suite of Fossil Free Funds and have a solid track record of understanding where the best investments are for a clean prosperous future.
More and more people are choosing to move their investments out of fossil fuels. They’ve realized it’s not only good for the planet – it’s also a smart investment decision.
3. Review your portfolio with a plan to eliminate fossil fuels.
Genus Capital Management is a proud supporter of Sierra Club BC’s work protecting nature and confronting climate change. The company is a trusted leader in fossil fuel free investments that do not sacrifice returns.
You can also contact your own investment advisor to see what kind of options are available – if there are none, this is an opportunity put pressure on them to divest as well, or to move on to an investment firm that shares your values.
4. Do it all at once!
Want to move your investments from fossil fuels into climate solutions while supporting young people and Sierra Club BC all with one transaction? Consider donating securities you might have currently invested in fossil fuels to Sierra Club BC.
We will immediately divest all such donations for you and transform the impact of the funds from climate-harming to climate-protecting impact. And you’ll get substantial tax relief.
Want to make a gift of securities?
Please fill out this form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to us at the address listed on the form.
Our legal name is Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation and our registered charitable number is 11914 9797 RR0001.
This article was sponsored by Genus Capital Management.
Feature image by Shutterstock.