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May 12, 2017

Global Divestment Mobilization a Bust

One week in and 350.org’s Global Divestment Mobilization 2017 has fallen flat.  Whether because of dwindling enthusiasm for divestment gatherings or vague and shaky pledges, the media, and people who wish to seriously influence environmental policy, paid little to no attention.

So disinterested was the general public in this year’s global divestment mobilization that the associated NYC events (the Trump Tower Divestment Teach-In & Rally  and NY Divestment Business Panel)  only received mentions in Gothamist and The Guardian, the latter being a publication that has made divestment and activism core to its mission.

Divestment activists’ “big success” of this year’s global divestment mobilization was that nine Catholic organizations pledged to divest from fossil fuels but, as is typical of these pledges, provided no details.  As Christina Leano, Associate Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), commented to E&E News, “when and how much money the groups would divest is unclear.”

This is a trend with the GCCM, a network of more than 400 Catholic organizations with the mission of combatting climate change.  Despite divestment having no impact on the environment, the group remains focused on the campaign. To date, the GCCM claims that 27 Catholic groups have divested fully or partially, but they do not present any additional financial information to support that assertion.  The nature of divestment for each of the new nine organizations is not clear, nor are the total assets.

For instance, the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters stated they don’t have any current investments in fossil fuels, but will promise not to invest in them in the future. Not exactly divestment. Even the Italian Jesuits  just said they will start a process to look at “different ways of removing investments from fossil fuels” but provide no other detail.

A few days remain in the “mobilization,” but this week was yet further proof that divestment is on its last legs as more and more people realize that this symbolic gesture would incur very real costs.