So what does divestment mean anyways? Divestment is the opposite of an investment–it means taking your investments out of something to expedite social or political change. In this case, folks are asking their institutions to divest from the 200 companies that have the most reserves in coal, oil and gas, to make the statement that it’s time to address climate change and transform our energy system.
Before we jump into the ins and outs of divestment, let’s do some math. Here’s what you need to know to make the argument for divestment - just 3 numbers!
2 Degrees Celsius: Almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be unsafe. We have already raised the temperature .8°C since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and that increase has already had devastating impacts on our environment.
565 Gigatons: Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons (a gigaton = 1 billion tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below this two degree threshold.
2,795 Gigatons: The estimated amount of proven coal, oil, and gas reserves that fossil fuel companies own and are planning to burn - that’s FIVE TIMES the amount we can release to maintain 2 degrees of warming.
Pretty alarming, huh?
Who can divest? Good news… anyone or anything that invests can divest!
Minnesotans across the state are standing up to the fossil fuel industry by getting involved with this social movement! We currently have divestment campaigns at churches, universities, individual, municipal and state levels.
Want to know more about existing campaigns?
Want more information about how you can get involved in the movement and make a difference? Contact our Fossil Fuel Divestment Coordinator, Patty O’Keefe. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, (952)-221-3977.
Anyone or anything that invests, can divest! Therefore not only are individuals asking their financial advisors to divest their personal finances, but people are joining together to call for divestment and reinvestment of their institutions to.
The divestment movement started on college campuses and continues to flourish across the globe. In Minnesota we have active campaigns at the following schools:
- Carleton College - Student group
- Carleton College - alumni group
- College of St. Bens/St. John’s University
- Luther Seminary
- University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
- University of Minnesota - Morris
- Winona State University
- Luther Seminary
The best way to get updates on how these groups are to “Like” their pages on Facebook! You can also contact Patty O’Keefe at email@example.com with any questions.
Alumni Involvement: Colleges and universities care about how their alumni view and support (especially financially) their alma mater, which provides alumni with many creative ways to engage in divestment campaigns. For an in-depth look at how to get involved as an alum, check out our [tools and resources] to see the Alumni Toolkit.
Also, here’s a sample letter you can use to draft to the Board of Regents and other administrators!
State Pension Fund Campaign
The Minnesota State Retirement System has 3 billion dollars invested in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
You read that right, 3 billion dollars. 507 million of that amount alone is invested in Exxon Mobile.
The Minnesota State Pension Divestment group is building a grassroots campaign to push the Minnesota State Board of Investments and the Minnesota legislature to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in our state! No one wants to see hardworking people lose out on their pensions. However it is becoming more and more clear that investments in the fossil fuel industry are extremely risky considering the high probability of international sanctions being put on remaining carbon reserves.
There are already campaigns to divest and reinvest state pension funds in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, California, Oregon, and Nevada. And now we have our very own campaign in Minnesota.
Wanna get involved? You don’t have to be a public employee, just a passionate Minnesotan! If so, contact Emily Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People of faith have become aware that climate change is a human rights issue and if left unaddressed will jeopardize the existence of many species on the planet, including us. Historically, faith institutions have played a crucial role in social movements, and their role in the fossil fuel divestment movement is no different.
Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, and organization working to catalyze a climate movment in the faith community, has it’s own divestment team. Please visit their website for more information for how to get involved and utilize the resources and support they offer. Please contact Dwight Wagenius at email@example.com for more information
City of Minneapolis
24 cities have already divested! Seattle, San Francisco and Madison, to name a few.
It’s come time for the City of Minneapolis to ditch its investments in fossil fuels. This summer, MN350 is kick-starting a campaign to divest and reinvest the City’s holdings. Given our marginal investments and progressive city council, the outlook is good!
Want to get involved? Contact Patty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in divesting your personal finances? Check out our Tools and Resources page for a guide to individual divestment. You can also contact Nick, a financial advisor at AXA Group who is experienced in divestment, at email@example.com.
MN350 is excited to announce our new Divestment Team! This team exists to support the ongoing divestment movement in Minnesota. We’re made up of people old and new to the movement, but share in our passion for contributing to the fastest moving divestment campaign in history!
Use us as a resource for your campaigns! We can offer the following (and probably more if you just ask):
- Personalized tools and resources to help you get your campaign off the ground
- Details and updates on divestment and fossil free investing from the perspective of the investment sector
- One-on-One coaching and advice for your campaign
- Presentations on divestment and reinvestment (we can come to you!)
- Knowledge of how your campaign can tie into the broader movement
- Detailed accounts of successful campaigns in Minnesota, and instruction on how you can apply similar principles to your work
Interested in joining the MN350 Divestment Team? If so, please fill out [this] form. Or come to a meeting!
We meet twice a month, on the second Tuesday and last Tuesday of every month.
Location: 2104 Stevens Ave. Street parking is available and there is a parking lot in the back. The 2 bus route drops off a block from the building.
Mid month meeting: This meeting is in-person optional. If you can meet in person, great! If not, please contact Patty at firstname.lastname@example.org for the call-in number.
End of month meeting: In-person meeting! Please attend in person if possible.
Tools and resources
Divest-Invest.org: This website is a comprehensive compilation of professional resources to educate yourself and others on divestment and responsible investment!
GoFossilFree.org: 350.org’s resource page with all kinds of great information
Divestment Team One-Pager: This one-pager gives a brief overview of divestment and active campaigns in Minnesota. It’s great for tabling and other outreach purposes.
Common arguments and Rebuttals
Roadmap to individual divestment
letter to investment firm calling for alternative options
Alumni Sample Letter
Draft of divestment bill going through MA legislature
CBSG → zoos and aquariums
Mayflower → UCC
St. Luke’s → PTCA