President Barack Obama finally unveiled his plan to address climate change. No matter how we may feel about his proposals, one thing is clear — it has affected the stock market.

According to The Washington Post, “shares of U.S. coal mining companies plunged on Monday,” largely in anticipation of Obama’s announcement.

Remember the “housing bubble”? Pension funds and endowments lost lots of money because of “stranded assets.” Now investors are getting nervous about a “carbon bubble.” When we take the necessary steps to cut carbon emissions, in order to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, the value of fossil fuel stock will drop. As it did last week.

The Maine Public Employees Retirement System, the endowments of the University of Maine, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin and the University of New England, plus the endowments of some Maine churches and nonprofit organizations, have investments in the fossil fuel industry.

How can our schools, state government, cities and churches claim to be concerned about the future of the people of Maine and at the same time invest in companies whose business plans lead to serious climate disruption? Given the threat of a carbon bubble, do such investments even make financial sense any more?

The carbon economy is on its way out. A majority of U.S. citizens, including Republicans, believe we need to move to clean energy. The civic and moral leaders of Maine, as represented by public employees, colleges and universities, and religious community, need to invest in the future, not in fossil fuels.

As President Obama said in his climate change speech, “Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest.”

Karen Marysdaughter


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