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Investors should press to reduce carbon releases

To the editor:

With climate change becoming an ever-harsher reality impacting many lives, my concerns grow for our own and coming generations. Science tells us that we must reduce carbon emissions (and our dependency on fossil fuels) if life as we know it is to continue on this planet.

A movement is under way to persuade institutional and individual investors to withdraw funds from the fossil-fuel industry. Hampshire College has done this and other colleges are considering it. Such divestiture may seem financially risky, but analysts predict a “carbon bubble” not unlike the recent technology and housing bubbles. These analysts believe that the fossil-fuel industry is already overvalued.

To help fight global warming, a global carbon budget has been proposed. But already, known global reserves of fossil fuels greatly exceed such a budget. So at some point, these reserves will likely become unburnable, and their value will plummet. They will become “stranded assets.”

Institutional investors are already drawing up principles for responsible investing, based environmental, social and corporate governance values. Indices and investment vehicles incorporating these “ESG” values are already available.

It is our job as citizens of this fragile planet to convince the managers of our college endowments, our pension funds, our religious organizations and those handling government funds at all levels to stop investing in big oil, coal and gas and choose ESG alternatives. It makes good sense environmentally and financially. I encourage you to learn more by visiting websites such as www.350.org, www.cdcgroup.com, www.carbontracker.org, www.ussif.org and www.ghgprotocol.org.

Then join our movement to divest. Let’s speak truth to power.

Beverly J. Weeks


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