Divestment is a useful tool

Editor of the Reformer:

"Divestment" is the latest tool being employed in the fight against climate disruption. The term refers to efforts to convince investors – particularly larger investors like pension funds, universities, and public organizations – to reduce or eliminate their holdings of stocks and bonds in fossil fuel companies.

In South Africa anti-apartheid campaigners credit divestment in South African companies – and the effect it had on their economy – as a major factor in bringing white politicians to the negotiating table that resulted in the eventual opening of the apartheid system.

In the U.S. current efforts are growing impressively. The Sierra Club has joined with a broadening spectrum of collaborating groups to enhance public awareness of climate disruption and the merits of divestment.

Vermont's Governor Peter Shumlin recently endorsed the logic of divestment. He wrote: "I don't think it was wrong for Vermont to divest from South Africa in 1986 to protest Apartheid. It wasn't wrong that Vermont divested from Big Tobacco companies in 1997. And it wasn't wrong to divest from Sudan in 2007 because of the human rights abuses in that country.

"So I don't think it is wrong for Vermont to use divestment as a tool to help tackle climate change. That is why I am working so hard to get our state out of the business of owning coal and ExxonMobil stocks."


Last December world leaders met in France for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. They negotiated an agreement to limit global warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels. Divestment offers us yet one more strategy to reach this objective.

Denis Rydjeski Sierra Club Upper Valley Group Springfield, Feb. 15