reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm
In finance and economics, divestment or divestiture is the reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.
- The BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement was launched in 2005 by representatives of Palestinian civil society. They called upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era …” This call for BDS specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law...
- Divestment campaigns urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from all Israeli companies and from international companies involved in violating Palestinian rights... BDS initiatives have been passed by more than 50 councils in Spain and by dozens of other councils in the U.K., Australia, Sweden, Norway and Ireland. U.S. churches, including the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church (UMC), and several Quaker bodies have voted to divest from Israeli and international companies targeted by the BDS movement. Academic associations in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, South Africa and the U.K. have voted to support BDS. More than 30 U.S. student associations and 11 Canadian student associations have voted to support divestment from Israeli apartheid... The E.U. has introduced rules prohibiting funding of Israeli companies and bodies based in illegal Israeli settlements and has warned businesses about the risks of doing business with illegal Israeli settlements.
- In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion... more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets... If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done? One answer might be found in the recent push to divest from fossil fuel companies undertaken by, among others, Norway and New York City. By December of 2016, 688 institutions, representing over $5 trillion in assets, had divested from fossil fuels... Author Naomi Klein described the fossil fuel divestment effort as “a process of delegitimizing” the sector and of affirming that it yields “odious profits.”
An analogous campaign to delegitimize beneficiaries of war is long overdue.
- As Congress Feeds the Merchants of Death, the People Must Divest, by Medea Benjamin, Elliot Swain, Counterpunch, (6 February 2018)
- In addition to pressuring our members of Congress to refuse campaign donations from weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, we must mount a divestment effort at the institutional and municipal level. Investment in war must come at the cost of public disgrace... Divestment offers an alternate means of addressing the blight of war profiteering in an era in which traditional political routes have been closed by our craven representatives. It also brings the message into smaller communities–communities that crumble while defense contractors live in luxury...A new coalition of about 70 groups... has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign
- As Congress Feeds the Merchants of Death, the People Must Divest, by Medea Benjamin, Elliot Swain, Counterpunch, (6 February 2018)
- We will not invest in our annihilation. Now we can avoid it... Our world and everything we care about is threatened every moment of every day by nuclear weapons, either by intent, accident, miscalculation or cyber-attack. These weapons, though now illegal following the July 2017 U.N. “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, adopted by 122 nations, continue to be modernized at an expected cost of $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years... Now is the time to stop the insanity and divest of nuclear weapons just as apartheid was ultimately stopped by divestment in South Africa. If we want to abolish nuclear weapons, we must stop investing in them. The just released “Don’t Bank On The Bomb“ report draws attention to the “Hall Of Shame” companies that are either financing or producing nuclear weapons and their components.
- Ultimately, nuclear weapons will be abolished. They will either be abolished through the means outlined in the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” and by divesting from them or, through their use in nuclear war, the aftermath of which may end all of life on this planet. The choice is ours. Our children and the future of the planet demand abolition now.
- Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them by Robert Dodge, Counterpunch, (19 March 2018)
- The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment. The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life and defenseless people. The compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change. The manual’s section on finance said people “could favor positive changes ... by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.” It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment... Last month, more that 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies. The document urges Catholics to defend the rights of local populations to have a say in whether their lands can be used for oil or mineral extraction and the right to take strong stands against companies that cause environmental disasters or over-exploit natural resources such as forests.
- Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms, Philip Pullella, Reuters, (18 June 2020)
- Over 550 students and alumni are calling on the University to divest from the U.S. prison system and publicly disclose its endowment holdings. “We, the undersigned, call upon the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO) to immediately and unequivocally divest Princeton’s holdings from the Prison-Industrial Complex,” notes a petition by Students for Prison Education, Abolition, and Reform (SPEAR)... The campaign broadens the definition of the prison complex system to include public prisons at the local, state, and federal levels. It also includes companies, such as Aramark, a food services corporation...that profit from the prison system... As of 2013, prisoners held in privately owned prisons constitute 8.4 percent of the total U.S. prison population... Such a small percentage makes the University’s divestment from private prisons “low-hanging fruit,” said Masha Miura ’21... Given the University’s renewed commitment “to identify specific actions that can be taken in their areas of responsibility to confront racism” in June — SPEAR leaders expect substantive change. For Miura, private and public prisons alike are enmeshed in capitalism. Private companies serving the prison system also receive funding from the government and actively marginalize and abuse people of color...
- SPEAR calls for divestment from Prison Industrial Complex, transparency from PRINCO, by Anne Wen, The Daily Princetonian, (20 August 2020)
- The College’s endowment will no longer be directly invested in fossil fuels and the Dartmouth Investment Office intends to allow its remaining public holdings in the sector to expire, according to an Oct. 8 announcement. Although this release marks the College’s first formal announcement of its divestment plan, the DIO banned fossil fuel holdings in 2020. The College’s divestment approach results from two decisions made over a four-year span: a 2017 decision that barred the endowment from making any “new investments in private fossil fuel extraction, exploration and production funds” and a decision in early 2020 “for [the College’s] direct public portfolio to no longer hold investments in fossil fuel companies,” according to the announcement. The move comes after Harvard University announced a similar divestment strategy in September, after the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report outlined the disastrous effects of continued climate inaction, after the student body presidents of the eight Ivy League schools called on the League to divest in April and after years of activism from Divest Dartmouth... According to the statement, “evidence that correlates the production of fossil fuels with the warming of the atmosphere is convincing and widely accepted.”
- Together, these bylaws prohibit any future fossil fuel investments from entering the endowment....As the terms of these partnerships approach their legally-contracted conclusions… the [investment] managers will move through the sale processes of those assets... In the past few years... the College has found that the investment in sustainable energy companies provides great returns and also allows the College to support new technology developments and make a huge difference.... Our investment team’s analysis indicated that there is a continued growing global shift in demand towards renewable and clean energy,... What we’ve noticed is that investments in energy transitions are now comparable or better than the investment opportunities in fossil fuel companies...Our investment team’s analysis indicated that there is a continued growing global shift in demand towards renewable and clean energy... What we’ve noticed is that investments in energy transitions are now comparable or better than the investment opportunities in fossil fuel companies.
- Phil Hanlon, quoted in “College formally announces plan to divest from fossil fuels, by Taylor Haber, The Dartmouth, October 8, 2021
- A movement to divest from fossil fuel is gaining support among foundations as activists push for funding to be shifted away from coal, oil and natural gas. The call from activists to the charitable world is simple: Ditch fossil fuels and direct your investments into climate-friendly companies and funds. The worldwide divestment campaign has sought commitments from universities, corporations and other entities. Now, two of the biggest names in philanthropy — the Ford and MacArthur foundations — are reorienting their investments away from fossil fuels, a move that leaders of the divestment movement hope will prove to be a tipping point for the charitable world.... “We’re calling on governments and corporations to act on climate aggressively and commensurate with the science,” said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and a leader in Divest-Invest Philanthropy, which is pushing the philanthropic community to dump its fossil fuel investments.... The MacArthur Foundation, an $8 billion organization known for its “genius grants,” pledged two years ago to halt new investments in oil and gas. It went further in September, saying it would switch to U.S. index funds that exclude fossil fuel companies. And it's aiming to change its global index funds to do the same within a year.
- On October 27, University of Toronto (UofT) President Meric Gertler announced the university’s commitment to divest from fossil fuel companies within its endowment fund of $4 billion, citing findings from the United Nations and the World Health Organization on the impending climate crisis which “now demands bold actions that have both substantive and symbolic impact.” This divestment includes a pledge to divest from all direct investments in fossil fuel companies within the next 12 months... This decision follows those of many other universities across Canada and the United States in the past few years, including Concordia University in 2019 and Harvard University this past September....As of 2021, approximately 220 postsecondary institutions have divested from the fossil fuel industry. UofT’s decision was motivated by its perceived role as a leading academic institution to meet the “urgent challenge” of the climate crisis and its responsibility for the detrimental effects that will “disproportionately fall on students and generations of future students and children around the world.”
- UofT Divests from Fossil Fuels, by Elsie Yang, McGill Dailey, December 1, 2021
- The city’s mayor signed a bill to eliminate the controversial investments by 2025. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has signed into law an ordinance to divest the city from the fossil fuel, tobacco, and private prison industries by the end of 2025. The ordinance prohibits using public funds to invest in the stocks, securities, or other obligations of any company that derives more than 15% of its revenue from those industries. Under the new law, fossil fuel investments are defined as investments in any company that derives more than 15% of its revenue from the combustion, distribution, extraction, manufacture, or sale of fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas, or fossil fuel products. It also includes electric distribution companies with corporate affiliates that derive revenue from fossil fuels.
- Boston is among an increasing number of municipalities, universities, and private foundations that have announced plans to divest from fossil fuels. In late October, ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, Auckland, New Zealand; Copenhagen, Denmark; Glasgow, Scotland; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; and Seattle announced commitments to divest from fossil fuel companies and increase investments to make cities more sustainable. Also last month, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott signed a bill that requires the city’s three pension funds to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Those are in addition to divestment commitments made last year by Berlin; Bristol, England; Cape Town, South Africa; Durban, South Africa; London; Los Angeles; Milan; New Orleans; New York City; Oslo; Norway; Pittsburgh; and Vancouver, Canada. “Cities are at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and there is real momentum to move investments away from fossil fuels and toward climate solutions,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is chair-elect of C40 Cities, a network of mayors working to confront climate change, said in a statement. “I will continue to encourage more cities to join the movement, and urge national governments and private finance institutions to mobilize more finance to invest directly in cities to support a green and fair recovery.”