Mike Hulme explains in The Guardian why "fossil fuel divestment is a misguided tactic". He lists diverse arguments: divestment is not a policy tool; it shifts focus on the 2 degree goal only and thus supports a naive narrative, and climate change is not only about fossil fuels but it is a wicked problem. Finally, there are the killer arguments "this does not work for India" and "this is feel good campaigning". When reading this, I got stuck with the argument of "feel-good campaigning". What exactly is meant by this, and why is it used as a derogatory term?
Mike Hulme once mentions Vattenfall in his article, and this reminded me of an annual campaign here in Hamburg against Vattenfall: "Lesen ohne Atomstrom" - "reading without nuclear energy, the renewable literatur festival". It is a high rank cultural event in its fourth or fifth year. It started as a counter-initiative to a campaign by Vattenfall that once had promoted literary events in Hamburg to improve its public image. Today, "Reading without nuclear energy" is an anti-nuclear, pro renewable energy and climate change campaign with considerable political influence; after a public vote last year, the Hamburg senate had to repurchase the power grid from Vattenfall.
Can you apply here Mike Hulme's arguments? (surprisingly, Vandana Shiva will represent India at this event). In my understanding, Mike Hulme's critique maybe does not fully cover the relevance of such a "feel good" campaign. From an anthropological point of view, this is one of the many ways how climate change and energy issues come to matter in public life. Events like "Lesen ohne Atomstrom" are part of emerging climate change cultures, where science-based knowledge is translated into vernaculars. Here, wicked problems like climate change, energy use, neoliberal politics, regionalization etc. are brought together and are negotiated, and I hesitate to judge this prematurely from a purely distanced science- and expert point of view. What Mike Hulme might disqualify as "purely symbolic" sometimes bears hidden political power. For example, Nina Hagen will recite Bertolt Brecht and thus provide a German "capitalism vs climate" moment that is both place-based and rooted in history.
(slightly changed 22.4.2015).