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THE MORAL CASE FOR
SUSTAINABLE INVESTING
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-
climate-convention/
Think back 25 years…
Fossil fuel divestment as an outgrowth of frustration
with inaction in the national and international policy
arenas.
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
fuel industry.
• Goal to remove moral license to operate
business-as-usual
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
THREE QUESTIONS
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
economy
¨ Shift discourse to “energy justice” and “energy
democracy”
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
universities
¤ Boston University (coal
and tar sands)
¤ University of Maryland
¤ Stanford University
(coal)
¤ Unity College
¨ One out of four UK
universities*
¤ University of Glasgow
¤ University of Oxford
¤ University of
Cambridge
¤ London School of
Economics
*Examples are coal and tar sands
divestment commitments.
United States United Kingdom
• Should we engage with the FF industry?
• If so, how?
• Individuals who work within the fossil fuel
industry
Q3: How to engage the fossil fuel
industry?
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-
visuals/galleries/climate-solutions
Climate movement turn to “100% Renewables.”
THANK YOU! QUESTIONS?
Jill Hopke, jhopke@depaul.edu

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The Moral Case for Sustainable Investing

  • 1. THE MORAL CASE FOR SUSTAINABLE INVESTING Dr. Jill Hopke (@jillhopke) University of North Carolina at Greensboro, September 28, 2017
  • 2. 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
  • 3. 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- climate-convention/ Think back 25 years…
  • 4. Fossil fuel divestment as an outgrowth of frustration with inaction in the national and international policy arenas. Climate activists disrupting “business-as-usual.”
  • 5. • 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 fuel industry. • Goal to remove moral license to operate business-as-usual Fossil fuel divestment is:
  • 6. “[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
  • 8. 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 economy ¨ Shift discourse to “energy justice” and “energy democracy”
  • 9. 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
  • 10. 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?
  • 11. Universities that have divested ¨ 40 colleges and universities ¤ Boston University (coal and tar sands) ¤ University of Maryland ¤ Stanford University (coal) ¤ Unity College ¨ One out of four UK universities* ¤ University of Glasgow ¤ University of Oxford ¤ University of Cambridge ¤ London School of Economics *Examples are coal and tar sands divestment commitments. United States United Kingdom
  • 12. • Should we engage with the FF industry? • If so, how? • Individuals who work within the fossil fuel industry Q3: How to engage the fossil fuel industry?
  • 13. 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- visuals/galleries/climate-solutions Climate movement turn to “100% Renewables.”
  • 14. THANK YOU! QUESTIONS? Jill Hopke, jhopke@depaul.edu