On Thursday, September 28 I will be giving a talk at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, joined by my colleague Luis Hestres (University of Texas at San Antonio), on sustainable and socially responsible investing.
The event is a conversation on the theme of “What is Sustainable and Socially Responsible Investing and Why Is It Important?” The event will take place Thursday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m. in the UNCG Faculty Center. This conversation is hosted by the UNCG departments of Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Geography.
THE MORAL CASE FOR
Dr. Jill Hopke (@jillhopke)
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, September 28, 2017
Climate change as a temporal, ethical and technical problem, a
“perfect moral storm” according to philosopher Stephen Gardiner.
What future are we leaving for future generations?
Children walking to a nearby river to getwater in Lao PDR. Photo by ADB (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/asiandevelopmentbank/19144738993
Former President George H. W. Bush signs the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change in Rio, June 1992.
Image source (UN Photo): http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/let-s-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-
Think back 25 years…
Fossil fuel divestment as an outgrowth of frustration
with inaction in the national and international policy
Climate activists disrupting “business-as-usual.”
• Direct pressure tactic targeting top 200
publicly traded fossil fuel companies
indirectly through institutions (e.g. local
governments, churches, universities).
• Makes up a movement to stigmatize fossil
• Goal to remove moral license to operate
Fossil fuel divestment is:
“[T]o likely meet the Paris goal, emission reductions would need to
begin immediately and reach zero in less than 40 years’ time.”
Myles Allen and Richard Millar, authors of “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting
warming to 1.5 °C” (2017) Nature Geoscience.
No escape. (Reuters/David Gray). Image source: https://goo.gl/V6gshz
Global Carbon Budget
Q1: Ethical Responsibilities of Industry?
¨ Divestment movement acting as a challenger to
traditional political actors
¨ “Just transition” away from fossil fuels:
¤ Need to accelerate transition to low-carbon
¨ Shift discourse to “energy justice” and “energy
Demands – End to resource exploration, stop lobbying and
commit to keeping 80% of current known reserves in the ground.
Faith-based communities and climate justice groups held a candlelight vigil at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. Photo by LJ Pasion
/350.org. Image source: http://climateoutreach.org/climate-visuals/galleries/climate-solutions
Stigmatizing the Fossil Fuel Industry
As an embodiment of Enlightenment
principles, universities are sensitive to
“reputation risk” and perception of
“misalignment” between teaching, research,
and public service missions with investments.
Q2: The role of the university?
Universities that have divested
¨ 40 colleges and
¤ Boston University (coal
and tar sands)
¤ University of Maryland
¤ Stanford University
¤ Unity College
¨ One out of four UK
¤ University of Glasgow
¤ University of Oxford
¤ University of
¤ London School of
*Examples are coal and tar sands
United States United Kingdom
• Should we engage with the FF industry?
• If so, how?
• Individuals who work within the fossil fuel
Q3: How to engage the fossil fuel
Pushback against U.S. planned Paris Accord withdrawal.
“We Are Still In” coalition led by states and cities.
Worker examining solar panel in rurallandscape. Photo by Caia Images. Image source:http://climateoutreach.org/climate-
Climate movement turn to “100% Renewables.”