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Our View: Divestment is just a gesture

The City Council's vote last week to urge state investment boards to divest from fossil-fuel companies was a well-meaning gesture in favor of addressing climate change, but little more than that.

The resolution changes nothing. It has no effect on Ashland's investments, and isn't likely to sway the Oregon Investment Board or the Public Employee Retirement System, which are bound to make the best return they can on the money they invest.

What's more, state investment officials point out that investing in companies that deal in coal, oil and natural gas gives the state a voice in how those companies are managed and the decisions they make regarding sustainable energy development. Divestment would remove that opportunity for influence.

That's not to say there's no value in sending a message that this nation's dependence on fossil fuels is affecting our planet's livability. Big changes start with small steps.

But there are more concrete actions that can reduce fossil-fuel consumption right away. One is to vote for the Rogue Valley Transportation District's levy request on the Nov. 4 ballot. Increasing bus service is one way to reduce the number of people driving cars. 

Advocates for action on climate change are fond of calling on the powers that be to take steps to reduce the use of fossil fuels. We hope that those who attended the council meeting and those who voted for the resolution arrived and departed using transportation that did not involve the need to burn fossil fuels.