A New Divestment Focus: Fossil Fuels

In the 1980s, it was South Africa. In the 1990s, it was tobacco.

Now fossil fuels have become the focus of those who would change the world through the power of investing.

A student movement has gathered momentum at more than 300 campuses over the last year. Members have encouraged college and university endowments to divest themselves of their holdings of companies in the fossil fuel business to avoid profiting from the release of carbon associated with the risk of global warming.

While the efforts have gained some traction, they have also met strong opposition from critics who favor the traditional proxy-voting process of engagement, in which institutional investors try to prod corporations to change their practices, with divestiture a last resort.

The push also comes as some big institutional investors are paying more attention to broader programs devoted to environmental, social and corporate governance issues.

Read full text at The New York Times