Divestment Resolution

As of 3/2017, 14 Massachusetts municipalities have passed resolutions in support of fossil fuel divestment.

Following is a sample resolution:

Fossil Fuel Divestment City Council Resolution (6/2013 Northampton Resolution, slightly revised and updated)

WHEREAS, Global warming, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, is a serious threat to current and future generations in Northampton and around the world; and

WHEREAS, Global warming is already causing costly disruption of human and natural systems both in Northampton and throughout the world including the increase in extreme weather leading to power failures, flooding, drought, food and water shortages, property damage and death; the severe acidification of oceans; and the rapid melting of Arctic ice and rise in sea levels causing devastation of coastal areas; and

WHEREAS, The effects of global warming will further intensify with increased temperatures such that almost every government in the world (including the United States) has agreed through the Paris United Nations Climate Agreement that any warming above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be unsafe for human habitation; and

WHEREAS, Scientists estimate that humans can emit only approximately 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still retain a reasonable hope of not exceeding 2°C of global warming; and

WHEREAS, Proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil fuel companies, and the countries that act like fossil fuel companies, equals about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the maximum amount we can release to prevent more than 2°C of warming; and

WHEREAS, For the purposes of this ordinance, a “fossil fuel company” shall be defined as any of the two hundred publicly-traded companies with the largest coal, oil, and gas reserves as measured by the gigatons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted if those reserves were extracted and burned, as listed in the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s “Unburnable Carbon” report; and

 WHEREAS, Fossil fuel companies operate for maximum short-term profit at the expense of long-term sustainability, spend vast sums of money to influence government in order to avoid paying the true cost of the environmental damage they cause, and continue to explore for even more fossil fuel deposits that could not be burned without drastic acceleration of runaway climate change; and

WHEREAS, The City of Northampton has a moral duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of its inhabitants from the threat of global warming and believes that its investments should support a future where citizens can live healthy lives without the catastrophic impacts of a warming environment; and

WHEREAS, There is a global mobilization to divest from fossil fuel companies as both a moral action and a means of weakening the fossil fuel industry politically, with many cities and towns resolving to divest their portfolios of fossil fuel companies and hundreds of religious and higher learning institutions either committing to or considering divestment from fossil fuel companies; and

WHEREAS, Leadership is critical to build national momentum for the movement to divest from fossil fuel companies; and

WHEREAS, Northampton is a proven leader in sustainability having articulated and demonstrated this leadership in various ways, such as the Sustainable Northampton master plan, membership in Cities for Climate Protection and designation as a Massachusetts Green Community; the Solarize Northampton program, expansion of bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, construction of LEED certified municipal buildings, etc.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the City Council of the City of Northampton urges the City’s Retirement Board and directs the City Treasurer of Northampton to review their investment portfolios in order to identify any holdings that include direct or indirect investments in fossil fuel companies; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council urges the Retirement Board and directs the City Treasurer to immediately cease, and adopt policies precluding, any new investments in fossil fuel companies or in commingled assets that include holdings in fossil fuel companies; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City of Northampton urges the Retirement Board and directs the City Treasurer to divest from any of its directly held or commingled assets that include holdings in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds (as determined by the Carbon Tracker list) within 5 years; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That, for any Northampton investments in commingled funds that are found to include fossil fuel companies, the City Council urges the Retirement Board and directs the City Treasurer to contact the fund managers and request that the fossil fuel companies be removed from the funds; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council urges the Retirement Board and directs the City Treasurer to release yearly updates, available to the public, detailing progress made towards full divestment; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council endorses proposed state legislation that requires divestment of statewide retirement funds {Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT)} from fossil fuel companies, and precludes new investment in fossil fuel companies; and urges our state legislators to do everything they can to support passage of this legislation.