Owen Bugaoan - Position Paper

1 Lord Owen Bugaoan ADMS 3660 M 218061580 21 March 2023 Divestment from Fossil Fuels and Ethics While fossil fuels have been one of the drivers for economic and industrialization growth for many decades now, it also turned out that as one of the primary drivers of climate change, a major ethical concern that we are facing globally. Ethical organizations are entities that prioritize ethical considerations over profits, and thus, they should divest from fossil fuel stocks because continuing to invest in them would violate their obligations on reducing further harm to the environment and promoting sustainability. In this case, the key stakeholders include the organizations divesting from fossil fuel stocks; the fossil fuel companies and their shareholders; the present and future generations; and the broader society and economy, which may be impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels. These stakeholders have important rights that should be taken into account. The organizations divesting fossil fuel stocks have the right and duty to act in accordance with their ethical values and obligations. The fossil fuel companies and their shareholders also have a right to pursue their business interests, but not at the expense of environmental sustainability. The future generation deserve a livable planet and finally, our society deserves an economically stable, sustainable future. These rights must all be considered when making decisions regarding fossil fuel stocks. There are two alternative courses of action that could be taken. A partial divestment of fossil fuel stocks could be seen as a compromise between the ethical responsibility to divest fully and the interests of fossil fuel companies. However, this action alone may not go far enough in addressing climate change-related ethical concerns to have a substantial effect. On the other hand, a complete divestment of fossil fuel stocks would be in line with the ethical duty on promoting sustainability and minimizing harm to the environment, yet it could lead to detrimental economic outcomes for some organizations and even the broader society and this may not be practical in all cases. I will provide brief reasonings from three ethical perspectives that come into play in this scenario. Utilitarian ethics suggest that actions should be taken which maximize overall well-being of all individuals affected by such actions. The consequences of continued use of fossil fuels are disastrous, as evidenced by rising global temperatures, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events. These consequences threaten the well-being of the current generation, and even more for the future generations to come, making it morally crucial to take action to reduce greenhouse gas
2 emissions. In such cases, divesting of fossil fuel stocks may be the most utilitarian choice because it has the greatest positive effect on both the environment and upcoming generations. Deontology ethics dictate that decisions be made based on ethical principles and duties. In this instance, ethical organizations have obligations to act in ways that promote social good, protect the planet, and enrich human lives. By continuing to invest in fossil fuels, organizations contribute to an industry that harm both the environment and society as a whole. From a deontological perspective, ethical obligations to promote environmental sustainability would indicate that divestment from fossil fuel stocks is the appropriate course of action. Furthermore, this duty can be extended to upcoming generations who would definitely be affected by the long- term consequences of fossil fuel consumption. Virtue ethics emphasizes the qualities or character traits of individuals or in this case, organizations that lead to ethical behaviour. Such actions be taken based on developing good character and moral virtues, and thus, divesting of fossil fuel stocks could be seen as a virtuous action aligning with an organization's values and commitment to ethical behaviour. From this ethical perspective, ethical organizations should cultivate values such as responsibility, empathy, and environmental stewardship, so investing in fossil fuels would contradict these values. Based on the ethical duties to promote environmental sustainability and the potential adverse consequences of continuing to invest and consumption of fossil fuels, my normative recommendation would be for ethical organizations to completely divest from fossil fuel stocks. This recommendation stems from deontological ethics, as it acknowledges every individual and organization's obligation to the environment and society. The continued extraction and use of fossil fuels is in conflict with these obligations, so complete divestment is a practical step for organizations can take to align their behaviour with their values. While the transition away from the use of fossil fuels may have immediate economic costs, it is necessary for the long-term sustainability of both organizations and our planet. Furthermore, organizations must find ways to reinvest in alternative energy sources which not only provides long-term financial gains but also promotes sustainability.
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