Charlottesville Divests From Weapons And Fossil Fuels

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On the evening of June 3, 2019, the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., voted to divest the funds in its operating budget from weapons dealers and fossil fuel producers. Here’s the resolution as passed by the City Council: PDF. The city has also committed to taking the same step with its retirement fund by this coming autumn.

The proposal to do this was brought to the city in March by a coalition of groups called Divest Cville, which attended and spoke at city council meetings (see videos), held rallies, wrote letters, made flyers, bought ads, produced responses to possible objections, met with the City Treasurer, and presented a petition.

David Swanson, Executive Director of World BEYOND War, one of the organizations involved, said that combining weapons with fossil fuels was not just a matter of listing the two worst investments, but was a step intentionally taken to highlight the connections between the two industries.

A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas. In fact, the launching of wars by wealthy nations in poor ones does not correlate with human rights violations or lack of democracy or threats of terrorism, but does strongly correlate with the presence of oil.

Divest Cville made the following case:

U.S. weapons companies supply deadly weapons to numerous brutal dictatorships around the globe, and companies Charlottesville currently has public funds invested in include Boeing and Honeywell, which are major suppliers of Saudi Arabia’s horrific war on the people of Yemen.

The current federal administration has labeled climate change a hoax, moved to withdraw the U.S. from the global climate accord, attempted to suppress climate science, and worked to intensify the production and use of warming-causing fossil fuels, with the burden therefore falling on city, county, and state governments to assume climate leadership for the sake of their citizens’ wellbeing and the health of local and regional environments.

Militarism is a major contributor to climate change, and the City of Charlottesville had already urged the U.S. Congress to invest less in militarism and more in protecting human and environmental needs.

Continuing on the current course of climate change will cause a global average temperature rise of 4.5ºF by 2050, and cost the global economy $32 trillion dollars.

Five-year averages of temperature in Virginia began a significant and steady increase in the early 1970s, rising from 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit then to 56.2 degrees F in 2012, and the Piedmont area has seen the temperature rise at a rate of 0.53 degrees F per decade, at which rate Virginia will be as hot as South Carolina by 2050 and as northern Florida by 2100;

Economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs-creation program, and that investment in other sectors is economically beneficial.

Satellite readings show water tables dropping worldwide, and more than one in three counties in the United States could face a “high” or “extreme” risk of water shortages due to climate change by the middle of the 21st century, while seven in ten of the more than 3,100 counties could face “some” risk of shortages of fresh water.

Wars are often fought with U.S.-made weapons used by both sides. Examples include U.S. wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican drug war, World War II, and many others.

Heat waves now cause more deaths in the United States than all other weather events (hurricanes, floods, lightning, blizzards, tornados, etc.) combined, and dramatically more than all deaths from terrorism. An estimated 150 people in the United States will die from extreme heat every summer day by 2040, with almost 30,000 heat-related deaths annually.

Local government investing in companies producing weapons of war implicitly supports federal war spending on those same companies, many of which depend on the federal government as their primary customer.

Between 1948 and 2006 “extreme precipitation events” increased 25% in Virginia, with negative impacts on agriculture, a trend predicted to continue, and global sea level is projected to rise an average of at least two feet by the end of the century, with rising along the Virginia coast among the most rapid in the world.

Weapons companies that Charlottesville can commit to not investing in produced the weapons brought to Charlottesville in August 2017.

Fossil fuel emissions must be cut by 45% by 2030 and to zero by 2050 in order to hold warming to the 2.7 ºF (1.5 ºC) goal targeted in the Paris Accord.

Climate change is a serious threat to the health, safety and welfare of the people of Charlottesville, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that climate change poses a threat to human health and safety, with children being uniquely vulnerable, and calls failure to take “prompt, substantive action” an “act of injustice to all children.”

The rate of mass shootings in the United States is the highest anywhere in the developed world, as civilian gun manufacturers continue to reap enormous profits off bloodshed that we do not need to invest our public dollars in.

DivestCville is sponsored by: Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, World BEYOND War.

Also endorsed by: Indivisible Charlottesville, Casa Alma Catholic Worker, RootsAction, Code Pink, Charlottesville Coalition For Gun Violence Prevention, John Cruickshank of the Sierra Club, Michael Payne (candidate for City Council), Charlottesville Amnesty International, Dave Norris (former Charlottesville Mayor), Lloyd Snook (candidate for City Council), Sunrise Charlottesville, Together Cville, Sena Magill (candidate for City Council), Paul Long (candidate for City Council), Sally Hudson (candidate for state delegate), Bob Fenwick (candidate for City Council).

  • Jo Hayward-haines

    Very encouraging initiative indeed!!