April 22nd, 2022 will mark Earth Day, coming less than a month after the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reiterated the scientific community’s warnings that to avert the worst impacts of climate change, we have no time to waste

The urgency with which we have been called to enact systemic change, implement solutions, and rally alongside our allies in the climate movement has never been more tangible. While the evidence shows we have the capacity to cut emissions in half by 2030, to do this, we need to drastically divert and divest financial flows away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. 

Financial flows make their way into fossil fuel companies in various ways: through government subsidies, loans, and importantly, through stocks. These then become coal fired power plants, mines, oil rigs, and natural gas pipelines.

There may be a plethora of reasons why an individual might find themselves in the possession of unwanted fossil fuel stocks: maybe they were inherited, gifted, or are simply the result of a misguided previous investment.

There are also plenty of reasons why these stocks should be let go. To begin with, purely on a financial basis, fossil fuel stocks are a liability. While dirty energy stocks have been underperforming for years, renewable energy stocks are soaring. Stock portfolios that are fossil free have been shown to be performing better than those that include fossil fuels, and the prospects for coal investments are set to decline even more rapidly. Meanwhile, renewable energy is getting cheaper every year, easier to install, and more profitable. 

With more and more countries thankfully implementing emissions reductions targets and climate-friendly policies, the fossil fuel reserves that companies currently hold will become obsolete, meaning their value will subsequently plunge. As the fossil fuel industry continues to face volatility – this moment, no exception – and climate litigations around the world rise in frequency and scale, the pressure to divest will only increase. At this point, holding onto fossil fuel stocks is an unethical and outdated strategy. 

While we don’t have any sympathy for losses faced by the 20 fossil fuel companies whose exploitation of the world’s oil, coal, and gas reserves have contributed to up to one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, individuals who happen to hold stocks in that industry should have a way out; and even better, a way to transform their holdings into fuel for the climate movement. 

As part of Earth Month, 350.org is currently running a “stock match” initiative, encouraging individuals who currently hold unwanted stocks in fossil fuels, or other industries, to donate them, after which 350.org will immediately sell the shares, so that the value may fund the organizations work in fighting the fossil fuel industry. Thanks to a generous offer from a foundation partner, in the month of April, any stock and/or cash gifts will be matched up to $250,000

By donating unwanted fossil fuel stocks in this way (as well as any other unwanted stocks), we can co-opt their value and redirect it towards campaigning for climate justice, financing the renewable energy transition, research, mobilization, and movement support.

One of our recent stock donors, Sas told us: “I inherited a portfolio with fossil fuel stock that I didn’t want. I donated my Chevron stock to send a message, loud and clear, of my disdain for the fossil fuel industry and its role in the climate crisis. The stock match was a great way to receive a tax benefit while supporting the great work of 350 and get my gift doubled! I am happy to do my part in keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”  

We continue to campaign in the US for the Federal Reserve to follow the lead of other Central Banks around the world who have developed concrete monetary policy strategies that take into consideration fossil fuels’ acceleration of climate impacts, and we are calling on them to end fossil fuel finance by phasing out funding of fossil fuel companies and investing in renewable energy and climate solutions. 

While we keep the pressure up on banks and financial institutions, the stock match initiative is another channel through which individuals who wish to contribute to the movement have the opportunity to transform these investments into something constructive, something that will benefit our collective future.

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Stock gifts can be submitted by supplying the following information to your broker:

Fidelity account: 350.org

Account number: Z50-437263

DTC: 0226

Once the transaction has been completed, email [email protected] or call 646-801-0759 to notify 350 staff of your donation.

Cash donations can be made via the website at http://act.350.org/donate/earthmonth22/, or by check mailed to: 350.org, PO Box 843004 Boston, MA 02284-3004.

 

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