Divestment: Should Investors Take the Apartheid Approach?

Beginning in the 1960s and culminating in the mid-80s, the apartheid divestment movement involved investors selling their shares of companies that were benefiting economically from South Africa's apartheid regime. The movement was broad enough that it's credited with adding to the pressure on the apartheid government to begin negotiations that ultimately led to its demise. It's considered a successful case of investor activism to correct a social harm.

Flash-forward to today, and there's a growing movement to divest from hydrocarbons in order to deal with climate change. Part of this movement is 350.org, an organization that urges college and university endowments to divest their shares of fossil fuel companies. The group takes particular aim at Transcanada (NYSE: TRP  ) because of the heavy carbon impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as those companies most exposed to the "carbon bubble," including BP (NYSE: BP  ) , Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) , and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) .

John Vechey of PopCap Games recently joined The Motley Fool for a climate change summit. His first panel guests were Dr. Rachel Cleetus, a climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Dr. Joe Casola, program director for science and impacts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. In the video below, they offer divergent views on divestment and whether it is a constructive approach to take.

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  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2013, at 9:17 PM, chris293 wrote:

    Attack anything that in anyway helps backward countries to join a changing world for an advancing free society. Carbon bubbles sounds like hot air or just another changing of college level wording to get your degree in how to scare the public. Maybe the sun is having a hot flash. joking aside, BP, CVX, RDS-A, and TRP are companies that serve the needs of the public. The 350.org. sounds like any number of organizations that are well meaning groups that serve the best interests of people who sometimes don't really believe in free enterprise or democracy.

    .

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2013, at 10:20 PM, tigerade wrote:

    I fully support the divestment of fossil fuels. The world will eventually have to stop burning carbon anyway. We are not far away from the tipping point to runaway global warming. Might as well get out before the bubble bursts.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2013, at 4:33 PM, cwon14 wrote:

    As ignorant a topic as I have ever seen at the Fool. AGW is junk political science;

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2013/07/could-media-be-bia...

    It isn't science, it's a left-wing meme to rationalize control policy on the globe and the Proletariat. The Soviet influence has never left the world, sadly.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2013, at 4:36 PM, cwon14 wrote:

    There is nothing "well meaning" about climate terror organizations like 350.org. They are modern Marxists and propagandist.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2013, at 5:31 PM, tigerade wrote:
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