Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in Thrive-ability
Statement Adopted by the Thomas Merton Center Board of Directors, November 18, 2013
Pittsburgh is becoming a worldwide model for green building and ecological urban renewal And in 2010, our city council voted unanimously to ban natural gas drilling within city limits, a galvanizing moment for the rest of the world. (With the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, many other American cities and regions are now banning hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil, a toxic and destructive process.) We at the Thomas Merton Center believe that our new city government will continue to foster wise and farsighted endeavors that care for our air, water, soil and people. This new administration has the power to point the way to a brighter future.
Therefore, the Thomas Merton Center is asking our Pittsburgh city government to take another visionary action in the coming year. We are asking that the City of Pittsburgh divest from fossil fuels by
immediately freezing any new investments in fossil fuels and
divesting from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel-based public equities or corporate bonds within five years.
Scientific data show that if the world releases just 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the global temperature will rise 2 degrees Celsius. At this point, climate change will increase at a much faster rate than is already happening and may very well be irreversible. Most remaining complex life forms will be in grave danger and human survival will be seriously threatened. The problem is that fossil fuel companies have another 2,795 gigatons in their reserves that they want to burn.
By divesting now, the City will:
drive public awareness of the unimaginable damage being done for huge corporate profits
build public recognition of the urgent need to drastically and rapidly reduce dependence on fossil fuels
call widespread attention to the consequences of continuing a “business as usual” approach to extracting, marketing and burning fossil fuel
inspire an accelerated and popular commitment to leaving 80% of the known carbon reserves untapped
lead to the development of renewable energy resources capable of meeting human needs
make it possible for life as we have known it to continue
Many fossil fuel corporations already have more money than most of the countries on this planet. But they have refused to give up their addiction to fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. Knowing now of their dependence on this business of exploitation and biocide, we can no longer ask them to plan their own “intervention.”
The will and criteria for responsible investment can come from individuals, though, and from a city devoted to a fossil-free future. We don’t have to continue on a path destined for desolation—or even settle for mere “sustainability.” Our goal can be bigger than just avoiding suicide. With several small green energy businesses already operating in our region—and much more untapped potential—our city can divest from fossil-fuel-addicted multi-national corporations and invest in local, green, renewable energy. If we make wise decisions now, we will have a brighter future. And together, we can thrive!