City council votes to divest from fossil fuels and weapons

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville City Council voted four to one to divest from companies engaged in the production of fossil fuels or upgrading weapons or weapon systems.

Charlottesville City Treasurer Jason Vandever promised that the divestment will have minimal effect on the city’s financial stability.

Councilor Kathy Galvin made the motion to vote.

"This does really in my mind puts us in the right direction towards meeting all of our goals as embodied in our comp-plan and embodied in our resolutions about sustainability,” said Galvin.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker seconded, but Councilor Mike Signer said divesting in both fossil fuels and weapons is putting apples and oranges together, and that he would prefer the council narrow down the weapon divestment.

"My grandfather was in the army in World War II,” said Signer. “I have a lot of friends who were deployed overseas. It's a dangerous world. You have North Korea and China and Russia who are competing against us internationally. We have a military for lost of reasons."

Signer was ultimately overruled. David Swanson, the executive director of World Beyond War, said fossil fuels and weapons go hand in hand.

"They're closely related,” said Swanson. “The wars are fought with fossil fuels and for control of fossil fuels."

He said divestment could potentially save people.

"It's our public dollars being used against us,” said Swanson. “Being used to destroy our ecosystem, our habitable climate to launch wars that blowback in the form of racist violence and mass shootings. In this country, it's not where anybody wants their money."

Also discussed was utility rates for the fiscal year 2020. The biggest proposed change is an added $3.04 to gas, $0.63 would be added for wastewater and $0.23 would be added for water. Nothing would be added to stormwater, leaving a total $3.90 change in utility rates.

The council decided to move the topic to the consent agenda for the next meeting.

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