Is Massachusetts going to divest from fossil fuels?
Last month, 3 Massachusetts towns committed to divesting from fossil fuels in the space of ten days. In total, nine municipalities in the state have voted to move their money away from old-school energy sources, and they are not the only ones. Faith organizations, such as the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and individual Unitarian Universalist congregations have also approved divestment resolutions.
It appears, however, that this is only the beginning. 350 Massachusetts and Better Future Project have just announced that on June 17th they will be presenting to Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (PRIM) about the case for fossil fuel divestment. By the sounds of things, they have some significant support as Steve Grossman, MA state treasurer and chair of the PRIM board, recently announced his support for fossil fuel divestment. MA Governor Deval Patrick has also spoken out about the need to move on—calling for a future that's free from fossil fuels.
As I've noted in my posts about the Stanford divestment and Norway's contemplation of moving its money, what's really interesting about all this is that the case now goes way beyond ethical or political considerations. And that's emphasized by the Massachusetts campaigners themselves:
“The value of fossil fuel companies is dependent on reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas – reserves that must remain in the ground for us to have any hope of avoiding dangerous climate change. Massachusetts should divest now, before our pension fund – and our shoreline – is underwater. This is a wonderful opportunity to show the PRIM board that divestment is a financial and moral imperative,” said Emily Kirkland, Communications Coordinator for Better Future Project.
With Barclays recently downgrading the entire US utility sector over its belief that solar + battery storage will give it a run for its money, the PRIM board would do well to pay attention.