Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Divestment news -- time to sell short?

An article somewhat hidden on the business pages of today's Guardian reports a press release by Harvard stating that the university will now adhere to the PRI protocol.

This isn't quite the same thing as the honest thrashing of ExxonMobil executives (via attacking their stock options) that McKibbon and were looking for. But it is something.

And it all started at The Little College That Could.

The thing to do now would be for an awful lot of activists, scientists, and professors and other small investors interested in climate justice to call their existing brokers, if they have them, or put a few hundred dollars of savings (or daddy's savings!) in a new online account and then sell Exxon short.

Those of us troubled by the possibility of making money out of the demise of an oil company could then donate the proceeds to the charity of their choice, even

But this notion might be asking for more economic savvy than is perhaps available to us. And of course, the company might rally due to other factors, or it might fight back in the media, and the environmentalists would then lose money, although probably not much of it. But I do think it would be worth a try.

The PRI Protocols (abridged):

As institutional investors, we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries. In this fiduciary role, we believe that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios (to varying degrees across companies, sectors, regions, asset classes and through time). We also recognise that applying these Principles may better align investors with broader objectives of society. Therefore, where consistent with our fiduciary responsibilities, we commit to the following:

Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.

Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.

Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.

Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.

Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.

Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

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