Council Approves Fossil Fuel Divestment
On Thursday, June 20th, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the Board of Investment Commissioners to ensure that the City is not invested in fossil fuel companies. The resolution is part of the Council’s continuing efforts to protect and preserve Providence’s natural environment.
Majority Leader Seth Yurdin, lead sponsor of the resolution, said, "Climate change is the biggest challenge that we face in our time. Here in Rhode Island, we are faced with threats of rising sea levels and more severe weather, but there are other significant concerns. Increased CO2 means increased acidification of the oceans. Scientists are predicting harm to shellfish as a result, which would hurt us here locally in Narragansett Bay.” He noted that a report from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center cited that the Bay is both warming and rising at rates above the global average.
“Successfully tackling climate change is going to require unprecedented political and cultural efforts,” Yurdin stated. “Fossil fuel divestment plays a critical part—targeting the political power of industries that work to block reforms.”
The resolution instructs the Board of Investment Commissioners to divest from the world’s largest coal, oil, and gas companies within five years, and to immediately cease any new investments in fossil fuel companies. “Divestment is a proven strategy that has repeatedly helped bring about positive social change,” said Council President Solomon, who was a co-sponsor of the resolution. “Divestment was instrumental to the toppling of the apartheid government in South Africa and, more recently, in 2006, the Providence City Council joined governments around the world in a successful campaign to divest from companies supporting or benefitting the Sudanese government and their atrocities in Darfur.”
This is the latest in a long line of environmental proposals spearheaded by Councilman Yurdin and passed by the Council. Since being elected in 2006, Yurdin has sponsored legislation improving air quality, lowering carbon emissions, creating new recycling goals, and establishing the City’s first ever Sustainability Director.
In addition to Yurdin and Solomon, the resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmen Michael Correia, Kevin Jackson, Wilbur Jennings, Nicholas Narducci, Jr., David Salvatore, and Davian Sanchez .