I’ve been working on the divestment campaign for a few months, and below are four main points that I’ve noticed are key in messaging and talking about fossil fuel divestment!
1) Many universities, especially Harvard, invested heavily in the real estate market and failed to see the housing bubble. When the bubble popped, Harvard lost millions of dollars. Now there is a “carbon bubble” (http://www.carbontracker.org/carbonbubble). If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, fossil fuel companies need to keep 80% of their reserves in the ground. So at some point, their business model will not longer be profitable. If investment managers are insightful, they will sell their stocks in that bubble and reinvest in the sustainable energy sources.
2) Most schools have a lot of green initiatives on campus. Green buildings, GHG reduction goals, local food, recycling, etc… But if our schools are invested in fossil fuel companies, they are going against all of the gains that they are trying to accomplish through green efforts on campus. So we are looking for an alignment of practices.
3) We know that socially responsible investing has little to no effect on returns. See this study that used the Domini 400 Social Index: https://www.phn.com/portals/0/pdfs/Articles/20071012DoesSRIHurtInvestmentReturns.pdf. Here is another Social Index, MSCI KLD: http://www.msci.com/resources/factsheets/index_fact_sheet/msci-kld-400-social-index.pdf
4) Our schools pay investment managers a lot of money to figure out how to invest our money. We know that there are socially responsible investments that do not involve investing in companies that are threatening the future of our planet. Sstudents are calling for our universities to uphold the moral principles that they purport to promote. We know that socially responsible investing is profitable. Multiple studies prove it. Hampshire College also applies ESG criteria to their investments: http://www.hampshire.edu/news/Hampshire-College-Releases-Draft-Environmental-Social-and-Governance-Investing-Guidelines.htm. And Unity College just divested completely from fossil fuels!