Divesting Fossil Fuel Investments is a Bad Idea

Colorado Mining Association Statement in advance of Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Day (Feb. 13-14)

In a world where over 2.6 billion people lack reliable electricity, proper medical care and adequate nutrition, the developed world needs to address the urgent needs of those who are suffering rather than harm them with mandates to reduce their supply of affordable, reliable energy.   We’ve seen fossil fuels lift over 660 million people in China out of poverty. Yet even today, over one billion people still lack adequate health care and 400 million people in India alone remain without electricity.  Affluent nations need to strongly consider the U.N.’s first millennium goal: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This moral imperative cannot be accomplished without the life-saving benefit of fossil fuels.

Those concerned about climate change should recognize that addressing energy poverty is compatible with lowering the environmental impact of fossil fuels. For example, cleaner coal technologies, including high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired power generation, are commercially available now and, if deployed, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the entire power sector by approximately 20%. The reality is that global energy demand continues to grow, and fossil fuels are responsible for supplying over 80 percent of the world’s energy needs. Development of advanced technologies is the pathway to a cleaner energy future.

The irony of the actions of those pushing for divestment of fossil fuels from university investment portfolios is that the leading research institutions can more effectively improve the global environment by applying their talents and ingenuity to the technological challenges of reducing emissions from the fossil fuels that the rest of the world will be using. Turning their backs on that challenge and ignoring the plight of those hindered by hunger, disease and lack of affordable energy, would be an irresponsible and morally unacceptable course of action.

It makes no sense whatsoever to divest energy fuels from the portfolio of investments.   Colorado coal ranks among the world’s highest quality, and is also among cleanest coals produced in the world.   Rural Colorado depends on the jobs paying in excess of $115,000 annually, as well as the royalties and taxes to support schools and their economies.   And coal plays a major role in keeping energy affordable.   That is something that benefits all of Colorado.   Also benefiting Colorado are the 6,000 direct jobs provided by coal, which in turn generate total coal related employment of more than 21,000.

Divesting energy fuels is not only bad business, it would threaten those jobs.