What is the Divestment campaign?
The divestment campaign is an attempt to generate support for radical, unpopular bans on fossil fuel use by calling on universities to officially condemn the fossil fuel industry.
The divestment campaign, according to its founder, Bill McKibben, is a new tactic to make the fossil fuel industry “Public Enemy Number One” and advance presently unpopular policies to virtually outlaw the production of energy from “fossil fuels” coal, oil, and natural gas. McKibben, in his most recent book, says that the next generation, despite being significantly larger, should be permitted to a mere 5% of the fossil fuels that we use today to produce 87% of their energy.
The tactic consists of persuading organizations with large investments in fossil fuel companies, particularly universities, to publicly renounce these investments as a means of shaming the industry and generating public sentiment that it should be dismantled.
McKibben’s organization, 350.org explains,
How did “Don’t Divest, Educate” come to be?
The open letter was initiated by Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and I Love Fossil Fuels, to bring to light the compelling case for fossil fuels and against divestment—and to show that many of the nation’s top thinkers felt the same way.
The letter has three objectives:
- Call attention to the divestment movement’s attempt to indoctrinate students with an anti-fossil fuel ideology
- Challenge divestment supporters to openly debate the merits of fossil fuels
- Call on universities to reject demands for divestment, and instead drastically improve energy education
What is I Love Fossil Fuels?
I Love Fossil Fuels (ILFF) is a project of the (independent) Center for Industrial Progress aiming to foster a nationwide movement in support of fossil fuels and the fossil fuel industry.
I Love Fossil Fuels was created by Alex Epstein to offer a positive alternative to the anti-fossil-fuel movement, including the divestment campaign.
Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, was the first person to publicly challenge the divestment campaign—he challenged McKibben to a debate on fossil fuels and, after hearing no response, offered McKibben $10,000 to debate him at Duke University. (McKibben accepted and participated, though refused to promote the debate.)
Epstein also participated in the largest challenge to the divestment movement to date. Scheduled to give his talk “Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet” at Vassar College, 350.org tried to have Epstein’s talk canceled and, when that failed, to get students to stage a walk out. The plan backfired, as explained by Julian Hassan, host of the event and founder of Vassar Loves Fossil Fuels.
This success and others made us believe that despite being a private company with nothing resembling the millions of dollars of activism handouts that 350.org, the Sierra Club, and others get, we could make a difference.
Note: The signatories of the letter are not necessarily members of ILFF. They have agreed to the statements made in the letter only and are not responsible for any other statements made on this website or elsewhere.
How can I get involved?
If you are a student, a professor, a member of the energy industry, or a concerned citizen, and you would like to keep up with the activities of I Love Fossil Fuels, click here to join the cause.
Students can find our guide to fighting divestment on campus here.
I’m a member of the media. How do I get in contact with you?
For media inquiries, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of Epstein’s past media appearances can be viewed on our YouTube channel.