Prominent Climate Activist Criticizes Divestment Movement

The latest critic of the fossil fuel divestment movement isn’t an energy company or a university president, but a prominent climate activist. In a recent interview with Valerie Richardson of the Washington Times, Paul Hamill of the liberal American Security Project called efforts to divest financial holdings in natural gas, oil, and coal companies “a glib PR stunt.” Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Paul Hamill isn’t what you’d call a climate denier. Far from it. But he’s also not a fan of pressuring academic institutions to sell off their fossil fuel stocks.

Four years after its inception, the divestment movement is under attack, and not just from its natural enemies in the oil, gas and coal business. Opposition is also emerging from liberal analysts, scientists and professors who are wholeheartedly dedicated to combating climate change, but insist that divestment is a waste of time and resources. 

“What they [divestment activists] want to do is to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere to tackle climate change, and that is spot-on — that’s what we really need to do,” said Mr. Hamill, director of strategy and communications for the center-left American Security Project in Washington, D.C.

“But divesting is not the way to do it. It’s almost like a glib PR stunt. It feels nice to go out and campaign, and it feels nice to try and divest from these companies, but it’s not serious,” he said.

Along with Mr. Hamill, most major universities—from Harvard to Yale to Swarthmore College—want nothing to do with divestment. Swarthmore, for instance, found that the college could “lose $15 million per year over the next 10 years under fossil fuel divestment policies.” That could mean less money for students, including scholarships, research, and need-based financial aid.

Divesting from natural gas, oil, and coal is an immoral cause. It means abandoning not just 82 percent of the energy we use, but also many products we use every day—including lifesaving kidney dialysis machines and sterile plastics used in hospitals. It’s easy to see why even some climate activists oppose the divestment delusion.

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