Public Carbon Talks

Divest: Smart Strategy or Selling Out?

Divest: Smart Strategy or Selling Out?

September 26, 2014

Should cities, universities, and other institutions be selling off their fossil fuel investments?

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Recent divest campaigns have attracted widespread attention as a number of prominent cities, foundations, religious institutions, and universities have pledged to sell off their fossil fuel assets. Currently, the City of Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, and other groups are considering divestment, but is it a smart investment strategy or an effective climate action?

Proponents cite the success of divest campaigns in moving South Africa away from apartheid in the 1980s, tout the moral responsibility of climate action, and decry the financial risks of owning fossil fuel assets in an increasingly carbon constrained world. Critics of the divest movement say that it’s divisive and can be counterproductive, a distraction from more effective climate action.

How should our pension, institutional, and other investment fund managers handle their ownership of fossil fuel companies? Is divestment a good strategy for climate action? How would such a shift impact citizens?

Join us for a free public dialogue.

When: Friday, September 26 from 12:30 - 1:30 PM
Where: SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Room 1600
Webcast: This event will be webcast live, courtesy of our partnership with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. Join the conversation on Twitter at #SustyBC and Tweet your questions to @CarbonTalks



Andrea Reimer, Councillor, City of Vancouver

First elected in 2002 as a School Board member with the Green Party, Andrea was inspired by Gregor Robertson’s leadership to join Vision Vancouver and was elected to City Council in 2008. Andrea was appointed in 2008 as the Chair of the City’s Planning and Environment Committee and Council lead on the award-winning Greenest City Action Plan, overseeing Vancouver’s efforts to become a global leader in environmental action. Prior to being elected to City Council, Andrea was the Executive Director of the Wilderness Committee, a position she held from 2002. In 2007, she was chosen to be trained by Al Gore to deliver his An Inconvenient Truth PowerPoint presentation to local audiences.

         Marc Lee, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Marc is one of Canada's leading progressive commentators on economic and social policy issues. Since 2008, Marc has been the Co-Director of the Climate Justice Project, a research partnership with the University of British Columbia, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Marc is the past chair of the Progressive Economics Forum and holds a MA in Economics from Simon Fraser University and a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

         Jamie Bonham, Manager, Extractives Research & Engagement, NEI Investments

Jamie has over eight years of experience in researching and engaging with companies on environmental and social issues in the extractives sector. At NEI he is responsible for managing the extractive industry corporate engagement program and conducting direct, collaborative dialogues aimed at mitigating risks for the companies within the NEI portfolio. Jamie is responsible for the analysis of company performance and industry trends in environmental, social and governance issues in order to support NEI’s work to promote the stakeholder theory of the firm – namely that the social purpose of a corporation is to provide returns to all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

What is a Carbon Talk? Carbon Talks provide the platform to discuss, define, and manage the transition to a low-carbon economy. It creates spaces for dialogue – not debate – spaces which help people to think creatively, consider alternatives, and develop practical solutions that are viable, cost-effective, and sustainable. We hold a free public dialogue every month from September to April. Each talk looks at a different piece of the low-carbon puzzle and consists of a presentation and question and answer segment. If you would like to be notified and invited to upcoming talks, please subscribe to our newsletter. Did you miss a Carbon Talk? Check out our YouTube channel for previous dialogues.

(Icon photo courtesy of arbyreed/Flickr)