Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Four Fossil Fuel Divestment Narratives and their Constituencies

There are four major overlapping justifications for fossil fuel divestment. These four overlapping narratives are existential, moral, justice and economic. Each one of these four arguments has its own constituencies.

1. Existential: This discourse suggests that fossil fuel use must be eliminated as a leading cause of climate change which is a civilization ending event. This narrative resonates with college and university students.

2. Morality: This argument suggests that it is immoral to support an industry that destroys God's creation. This is a commonly held rational in religions and faith organizations. 

3. Justice: This approach is often related to the moral argument. This narrative sees fossil fuels as disproportionately impacting the vulnerable and the poor.  They are the ones who are most at risk to suffer from the effects of climate change caused by fossil fuels and direct effects associated with oil and gas extraction. The justice discourse is commonly communicated by Indigenous people and the same groups that make the moral argument. 

4. Economics: The logic of divesting from fossil fuels can also be based on financial common sense concerns because the return on investment on fossil fuels is likely to diminish over time and assets risk being stranded. This is a view often espoused by responsible investors.

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