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Tue Dec 4, 2012, 05:34 PM

Christian Parenti critiques 350's carbon divestment campaign

Though elegant in its simplicity — attacking Big Carbon directly — this symbolically charged strategy (or rather tactic) suffers three crucial weaknesses. First, it misrecognizes the basic economics of the fossil fuel industry and thus probably won’t hurt it. Second, it misrecognizes the nature and function of the stock market. Third, it ignores the potentially very important role of government in addressing the climate crisis.

The divestment campaign flows from an excellent article McKibben wrote which makes the stark point that we cannot burn all the fossil fuel currently in the ground without crossing the line into truly dangerous, potentially self-fueling climate change. His punch line: We must attack the fossil fuel industry.

The 350 campaign has started with a big 21 city road show to get the word out. From there, smaller groups are starting to pressure universities, churches and other institutions to divest their fossil fuel stocks. The website for the 350′s tour explains the divestment strategy as follows:
...
via http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/03/is-350s-carbon-divestment-campaign-complete

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I don't know whether to agree or disagree with this. Interesting perspective though.


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Reply Christian Parenti critiques 350's carbon divestment campaign (Original post)
limpyhobbler Dec 2012 OP
wtmusic Dec 2012 #1
limpyhobbler Dec 2012 #2

Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 12:18 AM

1. Parenti is clueless as to how a stock's price affects company policy.

Dumping the stock of a company makes its value go down. The owners of the company, the stockholders, are a motley crew - everyone from little old ladies to mutual fund managers. The little old ladies don't know what's driving the stock price down; they cluck their tongue and make a note to call their brokers.

The mutual fund managers know very well what makes a stock price go down, as do the big shareholders. So while 200 sold shares of Exxon-Mobil won't mean squat to CEO Rex Tillerson, 50 million dumped shares will. For him alone that's potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars lost, and everyone else on the board. That hurts every shareholder, and if it hurts enough he not only loses money but his job.

The rest of Parenti's suggestions are wishing upon a star. Of course it would be great if government used its "vast spending power to create a market for green energy". How do you pull that off? How do you get the EPA to take "robust action"?

It's not that we don't know what needs to be done, it's that we don't know how to get the ball rolling. McKibben's idea is a great way for people to take control of carbon from a grassroots level.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 02:43 PM

2. cool

I was hoping somebody could explain that.

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