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Millennials Put A Choke Hold On The Fossil Fuel Industry


THE DAILY BEAST — At the moment, much of the world’s wealth is controlled by Baby Boomers. That’s quickly changing, however. As more and more members of this generation retire or pass away, their wealth—over $40 trillion globally—is being transferred to Millennials. With that transfer comes a completely different perspective on capitalism.

“This new socially conscious generation of 80 million strong,” a 2014 report from Brady Capital Research noted, “will be looking to invest in innovative companies that are disrupting the status quo and doing social good.” Many of its members desire an economic system that heals the planet rather than profiting from its demise. As Millennials ascend to positions of power in society over the next few decades, the Brady Capital report went on, their worldview will be “an influential force on corporate America and Wall Street.”

At the same time, the financial risks of destroying the planet are growing. Carbon Tracker has estimated that if and when governments take serious steps to limit global warming to relatively safe levels, more than $300 billion worth of oil, coal, and gas reserves could become effectively worthless. In the meantime, such investments are becoming less and less socially acceptable—a trend that Morgan Stanley, for one, has attributed directly to student-led fossil fuel divestment movements. “Though divestment has a mixed track record as an investment strategy, it often leads to increasing public pressure to take regulatory action,” the bank concluded. “It has sparked a robust debate among investors about how to address fossil fuel risk in their portfolios.”

The Divest campaign, started in 2012 at Harvard University by students like Chloe Maxmin, immediately forced school administrations into a debate about the morality of the fossil fuel industry. “It’s simplistic but it’s true: Are you going to keep investing in an industry that is literally destroying our planet, and everything we love and care about, or are you going to take a stand and chart a new course?” Chloe later