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Decarbonzing Finance: Beyond Divestment/Investment (SF PSR Virtual Event)


Learn how we can work to decarbonize finance globally and in California.

Climate change, driven by fossil-fuel emissions, represents a grave threat to human health and world-wide economies. The fossil fuel sector (FF), also known as the coal, oil, and gas sector, includes companies that extract these elements from the earth and/or refine and consume them. Ending financial support for FFs from banks, investors, and insurers would encourage industry movement toward non-fossil fuel energy development. Investment in green/renewable (GR) energy will decrease the cost of GR energy, and thus increase demand. Decarbonizing finance is key to our efforts to end the climate crisis and build a just, green economy.

Globally the movement to decarbonize finance is taking off. According to the Yale Climate Connections, “Worldwide, 66 financial institutions and insurance companies have formally decided to eliminate or significantly reduce their financial support for oil and gas drilling, and 131 companies are divesting from coal mining and/or coal-fired power plants.

Sponsored by San Francisco Bay PSR.


Sandy Emerson, Fossil Free California board president, is a retired software executive and author of technical trade books on database software and operating systems. Sandy heads the “Move Your Money” campaign for FFCA that urges individuals and institutions to move their money out of polluting banks and investments. Inspired by the divestment pledges made for the 2014 People’s Climate March, Sandy is a “personal divestment evangelist” who believes in the power of individuals to align their investments with their values and help speed the transition to a clean energy future.

In California, Fossil Free California has been building coalitions to work toward fossil fuel divestment, clean energy investment, and the protection of communities most at risk of current and future damage from fossil fuels. They advocate for fossil fuel divestment in pension funds and in municipal and institutional funds in California, and also offer information to individuals who want to purge fossil fuels from their own portfolios. In addition, FFCA supports legislative and executive action to encourage divestment, eliminate fossil fuel extraction, decrease use of fossil fuels, and invest in a just, zero-carbon economy.

Paddy McCully, is a climate, energy, water and human rights analyst and campaigner, with six years of experience leading a non-profit solar installer. Before joining Reclaim Finance as their Energy Transition Senior Analyst, he was Climate & Energy Program Director at Rainforest Action Network, and before that was Executive Director of Black Rock Solar, an organization that installed solar and did energy upgrades for tribes, non-profits, schools, colleges and small towns in Nevada. Before that he worked for 16 years at International Rivers, supporting communities around with the world impacted by destructive dams (he remains on International Rivers’ board). He was a member of the UN Environment Programme’s Dams & Development Project and a member of the advisory board for the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. Far in the distant past he was a Co-Editor of The Ecologist magazine in England, and an editor for Instituto del Tercer Mundo in Uruguay. He is the author of Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams (Zed Books 2016 and 2001) and many, many reports, articles, op eds etc. etc. He has a degree in archaeology from the University of Nottingham, and would perhaps have had a doctorate in underwater archaeology from Queen’s University, Belfast if he hadn’t dropped out to hitch-hike across the Sahara.

One of Reclaim Finance’s main missions is to help accelerate the decarbonization of global financial flows. Reclaim Finance intends to act as a citizen counterweight in order to eliminate the impression that current action is sufficient. They track and analyze the activities of financial institutions and expose the real impacts of their activities.