Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.
There have been a handful of successful divestment campaigns in recent history, including those targeting violence in Darfur, tobacco advertising, and others, but the largest and most impactful one came to a head around the issue of South African Apartheid. By the mid-1980s, 155 campuses – including some of the most famous in the country – had divested from companies doing business in South Africa. 26 state governments, 22 counties, and 90 cities, including some of the nation’s biggest, took their money from multinationals that did business in the country. The South African divestment campaign helped break the back of the Apartheid government and usher in an era of democracy and equality.
Divestment gives a face to the climate crisis, allowing people to rally around a target and feel empowered to take their futures into their own hands and call out those profiting from climate destabilisation.
This is really important when it comes to changing “The System”, because the economic system that is causing climate change is a system without a conscience. Shareholders invest in companies that produce profits for them without thinking about the consequences. The system simply grows as it reproduces itself, profits reinvested without a care for what damage is caused – but divestment can be a part of democratising the issue of climate change, and “The System” doesn’t like democracy because that stands in the way of maximising profits.
IN-vestment is another thing though. So as a movement, let’s make sure that the money that is diverted from financing fossil fuel projects isn’t RE-invested into other harmful but profitable projects.