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Celebrity climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio stunned fans last week when he revealed that he had investments in the fossil fuel production and utilization industries, and that he plans to divest himself of them in the coming year.
Leonardo DiCaprio is saying goodbye to fossil fuels
The actor and noted environmental activist, 40, is joining a campaign that uses their investment decisions as a means to fight global warming. DiCaprio, 40, along with over 2,000 individuals and 400 institutions, has committed to eliminating fossil fuel investments via the Divest-Invest Coalition in New York on Tuesday…
He continued: “Now is the time to divest and invest to let our world leaders know that we, as individuals and institutions, are taking action to address climate change, and we expect them to do their part this December in Paris at the UN climate talks.”
“Divestment” has long been a buzzword among environmental activists, stemming from 350.org’s campaign to begin the “divestment process” from the fossil fuel industry, encouraging companies, through grassroots effort, to pull investments from their portfolios that might benefit carbon producers. The movement has taken flight, mostly among campus environmentalists, who have actively challenged their colleges and universities to analyze and reconfigure their retirement and investment funds so as not to incidentally harm the planet.
The movement has also become an opportunity for foundations and organizations looking to minimize their hypocrisy on the environmental issue to declare their investments “completely green.” Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and foundations like Rockefeller, use the divestment movement to clear their own consciences. Divest/Invest estimates that, this year, $2.6 trillion in investments to fossil fuel industries will halt.
But divestment can only do so much. According to an Associated Press report, while “divestment” might make celebrities like Leo feel good about themselves, it does little in practice to stem the flow of real investment to energy companies and other fossil fuel power players, because energy and infrastructure are surprisingly good investments (just ask activist Tom Steyer, whose hedge fund maintains millions in foreign fossil fuel investments).
And while the divestment movement maintains that it achieves high numbers, it bases its “divestment” totals on assumptions: according to organizers, they suspect that each organization or foundation that commits to divestment has a portfolio which is 3-8% fossil fuel industry investments, but they can only speculate as to how much has actually been dropped, if any. There’s no proof, as with DiCaprio, that many of the organizations had fossil fuel investments in their portfolio to begin with.
As for DiCaprio, his commitment is only to divesting from fossil fuels, not refusing to use them. After all, how would Leo get back and forth to LA six times in six weeks without the aid of a private jet that burns thousands of gallons of fossil fuel every time it carries him from a movie set and back home? You can’t expect him to drive his electric car, after all! And you certainly can’t expect him and his closest, A-list, ecologically minded friends to take boats to Leo’s Saint-Tropez charity gala to protect the environment. That’s simply unheard of!