BURLINGTON, Vt. – Earlier this week, the Burlington City Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuel companies.
The resolution that was passed asks Burlington officials to document any fossil fuel investments in the city’s retirement portfolio and set a timeline for divestment by April 2021.
The resolution was assembled primarily by Councilor Jane Stromberg, who said it’s a big step in Burlington’s net zero energy goals.
“Divestment from fossil fuels is not only one of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis, but it also serves as a concrete example for other institutions, companies and municipalities to follow suit and it gives us an opportunity to reinvest in our city,” Stromberg said.
It’s a measure that was also supported by Mayor Miro Weinberger.
“We’ve seen that increasingly, investments in climate mitigation and resiliency aren’t just the right thing to do, they also make good economic sense in both the short and long term,” Weinberger said.
Although the city council has been prone to split votes between Democratic and Progressive councilors in recent months, the move to divest had unanimous and enthusiastic support.
“We just have to mirror the climate science reality,” said Councilor Karen Paul (D). “It’s one that’s widely accepted across the planet. We all do our part to embrace our personal responsibility to lower our carbon footprint. Now more than ever, we need to take our commitment to environmental justice to our investment portfolio.”
As councilors hold their final meetings in a year spent primarily responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, many spoke about the climate emergency with a similar urgency.
Councilor Jack Hanson (P) suggested it’s an issue worthy of that same attention.
“It’s been five years in a row with a category 5 Atlantic storm, which has never happened on record,” Hanson said. “I know it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the news cycle, but the climate crisis is raging right now and this is just a small preview of what things are going to look like going forward.”
In July, the University of Vermont announced its intentions to divest from fossil fuels by 2023.
Fossil fuel investments accounted for about roughly 6.7 percent of UVM’s total portfolio.