The Divestment Distraction

Divestment activists are a bit like the drunk who looks for his keys under the streetlight, instead of where he dropped them, because “the light is better here.”

These activists know that every one of us relies on oil and natural gas—and the petrochemicals derived from it—for every aspect of our lives. And they also know that trying to convince students to give up their cell phones or pensioners to give up modern medicine in the name of fighting climate change would expose the ridiculousness of their “keep it in the ground” rationale.

So they have taken their campaign “to the streetlight” by pressuring institutional investors to give up the reliable returns that oil and gas companies provide investors. Even the activists themselves admit that such campaigns are purely symbolic and will have no impact on their stock value. But it will affect the companies’ reputations, which is their real objective.

The logic goes as follows: If organizations dump their investment in fuel extraction and production companies, they will send a message that the fuel industry is bad, which the activists themselves acknowledge is nothing more than a symbolic action.

Unfortunately, the economic consequences of divesting from carbon fuels are all too real—and students, pensioners, and shareholders are the ones to pay for the activists’ extremist political agenda.