1,000 signatures reached
To: Montgomery County, MD
Divest Montgomery County from Fossil Fuels!
To Ike Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery County (MD)
& the Montgomery County Council
1. Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels.
2. Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.
Why is this important?
The nations of the world (including ours) have pledged to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) - because any warming beyond 2 degrees will recklessly endanger human civilization. Regrettably, they are struggling to develop a meaningful plan by which to make good on this pledge.
Meanwhile, the world's fossil fuel companies already have assets in hand (i.e., coal, oil and gas currently in the ground, awaiting extraction) that -- if extracted and burned -- will make it impossible to limit the warming to 2 degrees. In fact, their assets in hand are 5 TIMES MORE than can be safely used if we are to limit the warming to 2 degrees.
The Board of Investment Trustees for the Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans recently stated that, as of December 31, 2014, over $65 million in the pension funds it oversees are invested in 65 of the top 200 fossil fuel companies. The current fossil fuel portfolio of the MCERS includes over $10 million invested in such oil and gas companies as BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, and millions more in companies engaged in mountain-top mining of coal such as ArcellorMittal and Arch Coal. Montgomery County can do better. Studies show that divestment will not adversely affect the pension fund yields. Moreover, because people are likely to wake up at some point and put the brakes on fossil fuel use, most of today's vast known fossil fuel reserves will remain in the ground, causing a significant drop in company valuation. Thus, divestment not only makes moral sense, but financial sense as well.
Our aim is to have Montgomery County sell off its multi-million dollar fossil fuel investments. Why? Because divestment works. For example, in the 1980s divestment was a major factor forcing South Africa to abandon apartheid, a previously immovable object. Similarly, the fossil fuel industry has overwhelming influence in Congress, preventing our representatives from passing crucial laws to limit climate change. The industry wears the guise of respectability, despite the fact that their business plan seeks profit from the destruction of our environment. Through our divestment campaign, we are announcing to the world that we do not wish to be associated with the fossil fuel industry. We can strip it of that illusion of respectability. Our goal is to make that industry a pariah. Our Members of Congress will become sensitized and will find it more embarrassing to be associated with fossil fuel companies. With that, the influence of these companies will decline, and our chances for essential legislation will strengthen. At the same time, fossil fuel companies may finally decide to develop renewable energy sources.
Even as extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, floods, droughts and fires threaten to overwhelm local budgets, federal action to solve this crisis is all but stalled. We have the solutions, but we won’t see any political progress on the issue until we can weaken the power of the fossil fuel industry.
The bottom line is this: Divestment is the only moral choice for institutions that care about the planet and its residents. Solving the climate crisis is the only practical choice for governments that care about their solvency.
Let's do this in Montgomery County! Please: (1) sign the petition; (2) encourage other adults in your household to sign; (3) broadly share the petition with other MC residents via Facebook, list serves, etc.; and, most importantly, (4) target at least five of your like-minded friends via a personal contact to sign the petition and ask them to do the same with their friends.
How it will be delivered
This petition will be hand-delivered to the Montgomery County Council.