Regulations to limit carbon emissions are a key ingredient in President Obama's second-term climate-change agenda, but environmental activists say policymakers still haven't gone far enough to combat global warming. A grassroots movement has bubbled up in response to put pressure on public and private institutions and municipal governments to end investments in fossil fuels.
The past year has seen a groundswell of support for such divestment. Student groups and environmental activists have launched close to 400 campaigns calling on American universities and colleges to withdraw support for fossil fuels by pulling their investments in companies with large coal, natural gas, and petroleum reserves.
And political disillusionment has been a major driver of the movement. "We have a government that has been taken over by the fossil-fuel industry, so we're going to pressure the fossil-fuel industry itself," Chloe Maxmin, a Harvard University student involved in a campaign to persuade the university to divest from fossil fuels, told The Washington Post.
Environmental groups have also focused on political inaction in making the case for divestment. "Not only has Congress not taken up this issue but members are actively working against efforts to regulate greenhouse gases," Matt Grason, one of the founders of DC Divest, a campaign to encourage the District of Columbia to divest in fossil fuels, told National Journal.