Fossil fuel divestment
removal of investment in companies involved in extracting fossil fuels to reduce climate change
Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investments from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels, in an attempt to reduce global warming by tackling its main cause.
- The logic of divestment couldn't be simpler: if it's wrong to wreck the climate, it's wrong to profit from that wreckage.
- Bill McKibben, "The case for fossil-fuel divestment", 22 February 2013.
- We see this as both a moral imperative and an economic opportunity.
- Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, on divesting from fossil fuels, 30 September 2014. Cited in Tim Flannery, Atmosphere of Hope, 2015, pages 117 (ISBN 9780141981048).
- I think this is part of a process of delegitimising this sector and saying these are odious profits, this is not a legitimate business model.
- Naomi Klein, cited in The Guardian, 2014.
- This Agreement [...] aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, [...] including by [...] Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C and [...] Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
- United Nations, Paris Agreement, article 2, 2015.
- It is clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play.
- Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, cited in The Guardian, 2016.
- Reasonably, all these investments are financial dead-ends or ecological disasters.
- Jacques Dubochet, Parcours, Éditions Rosso, 2018, page 145 (ISBN 9782940560097).
- We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels. [...] Nothing less than our future and the fate of humankind depends on how we rise to the climate challenge.
- António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, cited in The Guardian, 10 September 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)
- The UK government’s overseas development bank has bowed to calls to end fossil fuel financing abroad by promising to invest only in companies that align with the Paris climate agreement. The CDC Group revealed its new climate strategy, which will end support for the most polluting fossil fuel projects, including the production of oil and coal, and channel almost a third of its spending towards climate finance. The publicly owned investor, which supports job-creating sectors in Africa and south Asia, will end financing for coal mining, and oil and gas production, as well as new or existing power plants and refineries that use coal or heavy oil. The UK government is under growing pressure to end its support for overseas fossil fuel projects after campaigners revealed that more than £3bn in public money was used to support polluting projects abroad since the Paris climate agreement was signed...
- The decision to curb support follows an exodus of major institutional investors from the coal industry in recent years, including Goldman Sachs and Blackrock. Investors are wary of supporting industries that contribute to the climate crisis, and may risk the financial stability of their funds. Norway’s $1.19tn (£950bn) sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, has decided to reduce its exposure to oil and gas investments too.
- The UK’s biggest pension fund, the government-backed National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) scheme with nine million members, is to begin divesting from fossil fuels in what climate campaigners have hailed as a landmark move for the industry. The fund will ban investments in any companies involved in coal mining, oil from tar sands and arctic drilling. But the move puts Nest – a public corporation of the Department for Work and Pensions – potentially at odds with the current pensions minister, Guy Opperman, who earlier this month condemned divestment as “counter productive”. Nest, which handles much of the pensions of workers saving under the government’s “auto enrolment” scheme, will shift £5.5bn into “climate aware” investments as it anticipates a green economic recovery from coronavirus.
- The ban will mean that some of the world’s biggest mining companies, such as BHP, can never be part of Nest’s share holdings, as long they derive profits from digging coal. It said it will sell its final holdings in BHP by 3 August. Nest will also seek to reduce its carbon-intensive holdings, such as with the traditional oil giants, while investing more money in renewable energy infrastructure. The fund’s chief investment officer, Mark Fawcett, said Nest was sending a strong and clear message about the seriousness of climate change.
- The [[Dartmouth College|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.”
- The state of Oregon should divest from the fossil fuels industry to protect both the environment and its investments, three Oregon lawmakers said Wednesday as a new study put the level of that investment at $1.8 billion or more. “The Oregon Treasury, which manages $130 billion of the state’s investment portfolio, is invested in oil, gas, and coal companies responsible for our climate emergency,” Reps. Khanh Pham, Paul Holvey and Jeff Golden said in a column published in The Oregonian/OregonLive, the state's largest newspaper.
- Oregon lawmakers push for state divestment from fossil fuels, will introduce bill in 2022 session, Andrew Selsky, The Associated Press, Dec 8, 2021