Now’s the Time
As the end of 2016 approaches, thoughts turn to what’s next in the fight against Eversource. As our legal team prepares as intervenors when Eversource files with the EFSB, there’s never been a better time to consider divesting from Eversource. It comes as part of a much bigger movement – divesting from fossil fuels altogether. Vocal, public divestment helps change the conversation, highlights bad corporate behavior, and erodes away at the social license of fossil fuel companies. Mass disapproval matters – think of the civil rights movement and anti-apartheid divestment campaigns. Eversource disregards the social and environmental impact of its activities in Sudbury and other communities. Global fossil fuels producers and distributors disregard the impact their activities have on the environment and the climate. Why reward them with an investment in their stock?
Divesting Your Portfolio
Step one to divesting – learn what you own. Unless you’ve deliberately avoided them, chances are, you’re invested in fossil fuels as most funds have energy holdings. According to Jodi Newman from Trillium Asset management, figuring out whether you are invested in Eversource specifically means reviewing your mutual funds and 401k plans individually. Check each fund’s annual report on its website or request a list of current holdings for each fund. To check a fund’s full exposure to fossil fuel stocks (as opposed to just Eversource), enter the name of your fund into the fossil free funds website. This will give you details on each fund, with specifics of where your fossil fuel exposure is.
Once you’ve decided what you want to divest, i.e. just Eversource, the largest fossil fuel companies, or all coal, oil, and gas companies, you can sell your fund shares directly through your mutual fund or financial advisor. If you have funds through an employer that you don’t control directly, you can pledge to invest in fossil free alternatives as soon possible and call on your employer to encourage them to provide fossil free options.
Reinvesting in Clean Stocks
You can approach reinvestment in one of two ways: reinvest in funds that simply exclude fossil fuel stocks, or more aggressively by actively choosing funds that support a more sustainable economy. When you’re looking for a fund manager, consider a firm’s portfolio management quality, their track record in sustainability investing and how they do their carbon footprint analysis, not to mention fees, and their history of shareholder advocacy. A full guide, Extracting Fossil Fuels From Your Portfolio, published by 350.org, Green Century Fund, and Trillium Asset Management, can be found online here.
Shifting your investments away from fossil fuels doesn’t have to mean accepting lower returns. A recent Harvard Business School study analyzed 20 years worth of data and found that investments in more sustainably minded companies performed better. As climate regulations tighten, global market and legal pressures will put the fossil fuel sector in further decline. So it’s no surprise that record number of local authorities, cities, and states around the world support divestment, including Sudbury. In 2014, Town Meeting voted to support state legislation to divest from fossil fuels stocks.
Be Loud and Proud
Worldwide, the global fossil fuel divestment movement has doubled over the last 15 months, with the value of assets held by divesting institutions and individuals now exceeding $5 trillion. Despite, or perhaps because of, the uncertainty over the incoming administration in D.C., it’s up to us as individuals to hold corporations to account for their behavior, be it extracting fossil fuels while they actively work to block development of cleaner technologies, or pursuing projects that ignore local environmental and community impacts.
If you find yourself with Eversource stock, let them know that you intend to sell it. Shift your money to support industries and companies that value communities and non-destructive technologies. And make sure to tell people about it as part of a bigger movement. That’s how change happens. That’s how we stop Eversource.
References and Resources:
Find out how your mutual fund measures up here
Guide to divesting: The Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement Report 2016
Check mutual funds fossil fuel exposure:Fossil Free Funds
Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment
Green Century, creating a fossil free portfolio
Cashing in on Climate Change
Letter to Governor Baker supporting Mass Divestment