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Seattle, First City to Commit to Divest Investments in Fossil Fuels, Speaks Out

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn put his city at the forefront of the fossil fuel divestment movement last December when Seattle became the first city in the U.S. to divest all investments in fossil fuels. McGinn recently sat down with Ira Flatow on NPR’s Science Times and discussed Seattle’s successes in divestment and some of the struggles it still faces. He highlighted a speech given by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, as the impetus for starting the divestment initiative. “After I heard from him, I called my finance director into my office and asked him some questions about our finances. We can and did divest ourselves immediately from our cash holdings.” The more difficult part, however, is one that Seattle is still struggling with: is difficult to parse out investments in fossil fuels from other investments in pension fund holdings. Nevertheless, Seattle’s divestment has spurred similar actions around the country.

The divestment movement does not seek to stop the drilling of oil and the mining of coal; the supporters of divestment realize that this is highly unrealistic. As McGinn puts it, “[divestment is] a statement of our values and what we believe the future requires.” The growing number of divestment advocates seek to funnel investment money out of fossil fuels and into more sustainable energy sources in the hope that the world’s energy and climate future might get a little brighter.

Since Mayor McGinn made Seattle the first city to join the divestment movement, the movement has gained significant traction, with 14 other cities, 10 other mayors, over 300 colleges and universities, and dozens of other organizations committing to divestment from fossil fuels.  Some examples include Providence Rhode, the United Christian’s Church’s pension fund, and San Francisco.

To listen to Mike McGinn’s entire interview, click on the following link:


To learn more about the movement to divest from environmentally harmful investments, click on the following links:



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