Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn sat down with NPR’s Science Friday host Ira Flatow this afternoon to talk about what his city is doing to combat climate change, including divesting from the fossil fuel industry. Seattle was the first city in the United States to commit to pursue fossil fuel divestment. Since then, fourteen other cities have made similar commitments and divestment campaigns are underway in more than 100 cities. That’s on top of the more than 300 college and university campaigns and dozens more divestment efforts at churches, mosques, and other religious institutions across the country.
You can listen to Mayor McGinn talk about divestment here:
Here’s a transcript of the segment on fossil fuel divestment:
FLATOW: In fact, is it true – is it not true that you’ve made a push to divest the city’s pension funds from fossil fuel investment?
MCGINN: I did. Bill McKibben, whose 350.org came to town, gave a speech here at Benaroya Hall. And he spoke to a bunch of us that afternoon that were on our Green Ribbon Commission, which had come up with the plan to reduce our carbon emissions. And he spoke about why he was pushing for divestment.
And after I heard from him, I called my finance director into my office and asked him some questions about our finances, and we can and did divest ourselves immediately from our cash holdings. Far more complex will be getting out of our pension holdings. And that process is now underway. And I announced that night with Bill McKibben that we would start doing that, the first city in the country to do it.
We’ve gotten 10 other mayors so far to join us, and we’re asking others to join as well. We don’t expect that, you know, that that will make the fossil fuel companies stop drilling for, you know, fossil fuels or coal or digging it out of the ground, but it’s a statement of our values and what we believe the future requires. Because the fact of the matter is, if you – we can get more and more efficient, and we’re working on that in the city.
But if we’re going to take massive amounts of coal out of the ground, for example, and ship it to China, that will swamp all of the efficiency savings and all of those land use savings we have. We really have to find a way not just to get more efficient and show a better way to grow economically and build great communities – we have to leave those fossil fuels in the ground.
Many thanks to Mayor McGinn and the entire staff at the City of Seattle who are working on divesting the city from fossil fuels!