Ask the City of Charlottesville to Divest from Weapons and Fossil Fuels

Short link to this page: DivestCville.org

Jump down to read resolution and sign the petition.

We are asking the City of Charlottesville, Va. to divest all public money from weapons companies, major war profiteers, and fossil fuel companies.

At its Monday, May 6, 2019, meeting, and through subsequent discussions, Charlottesville City Council decided that it would vote on a resolution on June 3rd to divest its general operating fund from weapons and fossil fuels. It also sketched out a plan to establish new policies for its retirement fund over the coming summer and into the fall — policies that will include divestment from weapons and fossil fuels and also possibly commitments to more ethical investing aimed at positive social impacts.

What YOU Can Do Now to Help:

1) Ask more people to sign the petition.
2) Plan to be there at the City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. on June 3. We want to encourage unanimous passage of a strong resolution on the operating fund and a strong commitment to swift action on the retirement fund. Then we want to thank City Council and celebrate.
3) Make sure you are able to speak at the June 3rd meeting. Here’s how. First, beginning May 21st, sign up for a chance to be given a slot to speak. You’ll be emailed on June 3rd and told either that you won the draw and have one of the 8 speaking slots or that you’re on the “waiting list.” Rarely if ever has anyone from the “waiting list” spoken at a meeting. Second, if you did not win out, be one of the first 8 people to the meeting and sign up for one of the other 8 speaking slots; to do this you will need to arrive earlier than most people, probably by 5:30, possibly by 5:00.
4) As soon as the City Council passes its resolution, if it does, check this page for a message that you can send to media outlets and to other cities, which can be asked to do the same.

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),

Read the case for divestment in the Daily Progress.

Read responses to possible objections.

See signature count on our petition.

May 6, 2019:

Here’s NBC 29 coverage of our rally for divestment held on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Here’s WINA.

We’re gathering signatures on this website and offline, including at tables at local events. To volunteer for tabling or to get a supply of petition forms, contact david [at] davidswanson [dot] org. Or print and make your own copies of the form.

Print out signs that say DIVEST.

Here’s a color flyer / advertisement. Also in black and white. Here are smaller two-to-a-page black and white flyers that can be printed on brightly colored paper. Make your own or get a supply from david [at] davidswanson [dot] org. Here’s a version for use after April 27.

Spread the word on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere you can.

Here is a 60-second Public Service Announcement:
Did you know that the city of Charlottesville invests our public money in weapons dealers and fossil fuel producers, so that we are — without ever having been asked — paying through our taxes to destroy our climate and proliferate weapons, including to brutal governments around the world. Other cities have divested from these destructive industries. In the past the city of Charlottesville has divested from Apartheid South Africa and violent Sudan. It can divest from fossil fuels and weapons. It can do so without losing money. Sign the petition at DivestCville.org. Come to the rally at 4 p.m. on Saturday April 27th at Central Place in the middle of the Downtown Mall with music by folk singer Ted Millich and by West African Drum and Dance in Charlottesville. Plan to attend the City Council meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday May 6th. No more using our own money against us! Sign the petition and spread the word: DivestCville.org

Watch relevant portion of March 4, 2019, City Council Meeting:

Read the resolution and sign the petition in support below:

To: The City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia

Pass this resolution:

RESOLUTION OF DIVESTMENT

WHEREAS, U.S. weapons companies supply deadly weapons to numerous brutal dictatorships around the globe[1], 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;

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, militarism is a major contributor to climate change[2], and the City of Charlottesville has urged the U.S. Congress to invest less in militarism and more in protecting human and environmental needs[3];

WHEREAS, the City of Charlottesville’s own investments ought to model the changes it has urged on the Congress;

WHEREAS, 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[4];

WHEREAS, 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[5];

WHEREAS, 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[6];

WHEREAS, 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[7];

WHEREAS, wars are often fought with U.S.-made weapons used by both sides[8];

WHEREAS, 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, and 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[9];

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, between 1948 and 2006 “extreme precipitation events” increased 25% in Virginia, with negative impacts on agriculture, a trend predicted to continue[10], 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[11];

WHEREAS, weapons companies that Charlottesville can commit to not investing in produced the weapons brought to Charlottesville in August 2017;

WHEREAS, 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[12];

WHEREAS, 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”[13];

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, the City’s investment practices may be in conflict with the City’s commitment to equality and justice;

AND WHEREAS, hundreds of people have petitioned the City to take the following action[14];

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council formally declares its opposition to investing City funds in any entities that are involved in the production of fossil fuels or the production or upgrading of weapons and weapons systems, whether conventional or nuclear, and including the manufacture of civilian arms, and decides that it shall be City policy to divest from such entities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council directs any and all persons acting on behalf of City investment activity to enforce the provisions of this Resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall be binding City policy and shall be in full force and effect after adoption by the City Council.

[UPDATE APRIL 25, 2019:
We are proposing to replace the last three paragraphs above with these four:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council formally declares its opposition to investing City funds from the General Operating Fund in any entities that are involved in the production of fossil fuels or the production or upgrading of weapons and weapons systems, whether conventional or nuclear, and including the manufacture of civilian arms, and decides that it shall be City policy to divest the General Operating Fund from such entities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council directs any and all persons acting on behalf of City investment activity to enforce the provisions of this Resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall be binding City policy and shall be in full force and effect after adoption by the City Council.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council expresses its intention to develop over the coming weeks the same policy for the City’s Retirement Fund, in full compliance with all fiduciary duties, and recognizing its fiduciary duty not to imperil the safety of Charlottesville residents or the future habitability of Charlottesville for human beings; the City Council commits to voting on the establishment of that policy in the coming 6 months.]

1. Rich Whitney, Truthout, Sept. 23, 2017, “US Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships
2. World BEYOND War, “War Threatens Our Environment
3. World BEYOND War, “City of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress to Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion,” March 20, 2017
4. “Pursuing the 1.5°C Limit: Benefits and Opportunities,” by the United Nations Development Programme, Nov 16, 2016
5. Stephen Nash, Virginia Climate Fever: How Global Warming Will Transform Our Cities, Shorelines, and Forests, University of Virginia Press, 2017
6. Political Economy Research Institute, “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update
7. “Climate change may increase risk of water shortages in hundreds of US counties by 2050
8. Examples include U.S. wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican drug war, World War II, and many others.
9. “Our cities are getting hotter—and its killing people,” by Alissa Walker
10. Nash, op. cit.
11. “Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era,” by R. S. Nerem, B. D. Beckley, J. T. Fasullo, B. D. Hamlington, D. Masters, and G. T. Mitchum. PNAS February 27, 2018, 115 (9) 2022-2025; published ahead of print February 12, 2018
12. “Global Warming of 1.5°C, An IPCC Special Report; Summary for Policymakers,” October 2018
13. “Global Climate Change and Children’s Health,” by Samantha Ahdoot, Susan E. Pacheco, and The Council on Environmental Health. Pediatrics, Nov 2015, Vol 136 / Issue 5, a Technical Report from the American Academy of Pediatrics
14. DivestCville.org

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