Confessions of a Fossil Fuel Divestment Activist

For four years I’ve been a leader of the Divestment Team at 350PDX but in all that time I didn’t divest my own investments.  I knew I had to do it but I was too busy. It was too complicated. I just couldn’t seem to get around to it. And it weighed on me…

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Oregon’s First Cooperative Solar Project Completed

View of solar at Mazama Mountaineering Center

The Divestment/Reinvestment Team has an announcement about one of the Reinvestment options they’ve found: A community-owned solar installation!

The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, together with the Mazamas and local solar installer Elemental Energy, will celebrate the completion of the Co-op’s first solar project on July 11 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Mazama Mountaineering Center (MMC), 527 SE 43rd Avenue, Portland. Solar panels installed by Elemental Energy now cover three sides of the roof of the MMC and are expected to produce half of its electrical needs.

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Support for PERS Divestment is Growing!

The 350PDX PERS* Divestment group has been busy this month. We are currently working on reaching out to the Unions to make sure that we have their support and to ask them to help us build more support by notifying their members of this ambitious task. On the weekend of April 22nd (Earth Day and the March for Science!) I had the chance to table at the Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly. The OEA RA is a yearly meeting of elected representatives of educators from all over the state. We felt very privileged to be a part of the OEA’s event and extremely grateful for their support.

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Portland City Council Votes to Cease Investments in Corporate Bonds

Portland’s foray into Socially Responsible Investing ended on April 5th with the City Council deciding it was too much time and trouble, at least that’s the impression this observer came away with.

When the City Treasurer’s proposed Investment Policy came before Portland City Council we were there, many of us wearing orange, with our orange divestment ‘wavies.’ Alongside us was the Occupy Free Portland Coalition, opposing the Treasurer’s proposal to dissolve the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Committee and to instead rely solely on a Wall St. firm’s inadequate rating system. We were also advocating for adding Wells Fargo and Caterpillar to the do-not-buy list (The Treasurer’s proposed policy named the Carbon Tracker 200, as well as Walmart, as securities that would not be purchased so we didn’t need to advocate this time for fossil fuel divestment).

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A Short History of Fossil Fuel Divestment and the City of Portland (and how it became a Socially Responsible Investment issue)

July 19, 2012 Rolling Stone publishes Bill McKibben’s Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, making the case for keeping 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground to try to keep the global rise in temperature below 2°C.

November 8, 2012, Bill McKibben speaks in Portland on the second day of his national Do the Math tour launching the fossil fuel divestment campaign.

June 3, 2013 350PDX meets with Commissioner Fritz to discuss fossil fuel divestment. Comm. Fritz agrees to support.

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Background on the Portland Socially Responsible Investment Committee

The Socially Responsible Investment Committee spent a year discussing what companies should be on the City’s do-not-buy list with criteria of concerns about the environment, health (including weapons production), abusive labor practices, impacts on human rights, extreme tax avoidance and exercise of such a level of market dominance so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces.

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Critique of Proposed Investment Policy

On April 5th, Portland will consider changing its investment policy, abandoning the Socially Responsible Investment Committee [SRIC] and adopting a new proposal from Treasurer Jennifer Cooperman. This proposal is inadequate, nontransparent, unaccountable and would contradict Portland’s position as a sanctuary city.

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Fossil Fuel Divestment Needs Your Support! Date changed to April 5

The Portland City Council is considering renewing fossil fuel divestment, but needs some support from the community! Please call or email Portland City Council to ask them to continue the city’s divestment from the Carbon Underground 200, 100 coal companies and 100 gas and oil companies with the largest reserves, and affirm the recommendation of the Socially Responsible Investments Committee to place Amazon, Caterpillar, Nestle, and Wells Fargo on the City’s Do-Not-Buy list.

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The Divestment Team is more than Divestment!

In fact, we changed our name to Divestment/Reinvestment several months ago. We still work on divestment–currently we are engaged with the Cities of Portland and Milwaukie, Lewis & Clark College and Catlin Gabel School, among others, and have a new campaign to divest PERS, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System–but a lot of our energy and interest has turned to reinvestment, especially Community Solar.

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Foundation Divestment moves ahead–and you can help move it further

metro-group-shotThis summer saw great advancement in the divestment of Washington and Oregon foundations.

In June the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation (MRG) made the fossil fuel divestment pledge at the request our the 350PDX Divestment – Reinvestment Team. MRG is now fully divested.

MRG said, “The Board of Directors committed to keeping our investments fossil free. They reaffirmed our longstanding commitment to having our investment philosophy match our values. This will keep over 2 million dollars out of fossil fuel investments.” Read more