The Post missed the point in its Dec. 1 editorial “No ditching fossil fuels, yet,” criticizing a proposal to remove fossil fuel companies from the District’s investment portfolios. Fossil fuel companies have made it clear that they intend to unearth and sell as much of the world’s known coal, oil and gas reserves as they can, even though doing so would spark out-of-control climate change that would unravel communities worldwide.
The divestment movement is not aimed at harming these companies; it is intended to show elected officials and the financial sector that citizens want them to make bold decisions to protect us from the economic and physical harm that climate change promises. For example, our leaders could divert the billions of taxpayer dollars that subsidize fossil fuels and instead provide incentives to better harness the inexhaustible supply of clean wind and solar energy, generating jobs.
The D.C. Council is to be commended for showing leadership on this issue.
Matt Grason, Washington
The writer is a co-founding member of DC Divest.
Petroleum and other fossil resources owned by governments and private companies far exceed the carbon content that climate scientists estimate the atmosphere can tolerate without dire consequences — by a factor of about five — the so-called “carbon bubble.” A large part of the net worth of fossil fuel companies is tied up in the value of those carbon resources. Once the world comes to its senses and begins curbing carbon emissions, that bubble will burst. It will not wait for the world to significantly reduce carbon fuel consumption; it will happen when the swiftest investors perceive that it is likely to happen. The resulting sell-off could be precipitous. Slower-moving institutional investors will be the big losers, just as in the 2008 financial meltdown.
Of course, no one can predict when those events will transpire, but is it prudent to encourage institutional investors to continue taking that risk?
Richard Ball, Annandale
The writer is the volunteer Energy Issues Chair of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s (D) failure to withdraw his personal holdings from Exxon Mobil is irrelevant to this debate. If he or I, a 20-something preschool teacher from Ward 1, were to pull our retirement funds from Big Oil, would we make the papers? Doubt it. It’s certainly a step worth pursuing, but when the District passes the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act of 2013, it will move the nation that much closer to waking from its carbon-dioxide-induced slumber.
Nina Sherburne, Washington
The writer is a volunteer for Georgetown University Fossil Free.