While the University’s Board of Trustees may have done the appropriate thing for the University and its stakeholders by divesting wholesale from all fossil fuel-producing companies in one sweeping move, it should be recognized that this is not the correct move for all investors around the world. In South Africa, where I have lived and worked for the past 25 years as a financial/economics writer, with its population of around 158 million, the economy is heavily dependent on coal as an energy source, accounting for around 80% of all energy production and directly employing some 93,000 people in coal mining (the U.S., with its population of 333 million, employs around 60,000 people), and another 250,000 work in the local oil industry. A sudden halt to the provision of capital to coal producers would bring the country to its knees. That is why the SA government and local investors have adopted a “just transition” approach, focusing on the gradual introduction of green energy sources in cooperation with the private sector. Investors are facilitating fossil fuel companies in their transitions, so that their cost of capital for implementation doesn’t become too onerous. While all would agree that there must be an end to the use of fossil fuels to produce energy and stop global climate change, there is no “one size fits all” approach to this transition, and this should be recognized by global investors. Their divestment could come with very real and destructive consequences for others.

Evelyn Bolin *89
Cape Town, South Africa