This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A recent op-ed on the University of Utah's decision to reject divestment fails to recognize that giving up fossil fuel holdings has no impact on targeted companies or the environment. According to Robert Stavins, the director of Harvard's environmental economics program, "The message from the divestment movement is fundamentally misguided. We should be focusing on actions that will make a real difference."
Frank Wolak, director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford, also said "Divestment comes at the expense of meaningful action … It will do nothing to reduce global greenhouse emissions."
The op-ed also fails to note the efforts of the fossil fuel industry to reduce emissions while providing the energy we all rely upon each day. Natural gas, for instance, has been called an excellent complement to renewables. President Obama's top science adviser, John Holdren, even stated this week that "natural gas is a very helpful bridge fuel to a much lower emissions future."
Lastly, divestment comes with serious costs for institutions in the form of transaction and management fees and loss diversification benefits. Given our continued reliance on fossil fuels, and the ineffectiveness of costly divestment, it is clear universities should say no to this empty gesture.
Independent Petroleum Association of America