April 1, 2015

Fossil Fuel Divestment: What is it and how it affects the SCV solar market

Everyone in Santa Clarita has heard about solar panels and the personal savings they can provide. Everyone knows many Santa Claritans have already installed solar panels on their homes and are enjoying the benefits of clean, affordable energy. What the average Santa Clarita citizen may not know is what the Fossil Fuel Divestment movement is and how it will affect the cost of traditional electricity and fuel.

The idea of “divestment”, in opposition to investment, has existed for some time now. Simply, divestment is “getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous” (2). Previously, many have pushed for divestment from businesses promoting unhealthy and immoral legislation—such as big tobacco and South Africa during Apartheid. Now the big call for divestment is to move away from fossil fuels (2).

Why divest from fossil fuels?

Many “divestors” claim that the entire fossil fuel industry must be taken to task for the role it has played in the creation of climate change (2). Touting the support of the United Nations, the fossil fuel divestment movement is gaining clout and ground every day (1).

Who is divesting from fossil fuels?

Well, many organizations, churches, universities, cities, and counties are divesting from fossil fuels. The demographics may surprise you. Sure, more politically liberal areas such as San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon have divested but so have the typically conservative Rockefeller Brothers.

What does divestment have to do with the average Santa Clarita citizen?

This once-fringe movement is beginning to sweep over and across party lines and political alliances as more and more people come to the conclusion that clean, renewable, alternative energy solutions may be a necessity for life as we know it.

Whether or not you stand in solidarity with the Fossil Fuel Divestment movement, its impact on the cost and the availability of fossil fuels in the future will have an effect on your bank account. According to CleanTechnica’s Joshua S. Hill, “the financial benefit and ethical motivation behind the divestment of fossil fuel investments is not likely to slow anytime soon — if ever” (1). This will lead to less money for clean coal research.

Without cleaner coal alternatives—if government restrictions on burning coal continue to tighten—the cost of traditionally-generated electricity will certainly continue to rise. If that occurs alternative energy solutions, such as solar panels and wind turbines, will become necessities for everyone.

As investment in fossil fuel research and excavation decreases, the scarcity of those resources increases their cost. In contrast, sunlight will not become a scarce resource in Southern California any time soon and the price of solar panels will continue to decrease as the technology improves. So fossil fuel divestment may force all Santa Claritans to explore the idea of a sun-powered future before the cost of electricity becomes unmanageable.


1) https://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/23/fossil-fuel-divestment-bad-idea/

2) http://gofossilfree.org

3) http://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2013/02/05/sterling-college-pledges-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels


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