A stunning wave of new divestment announcements brought the global total to $39.2 trillion for divestment, up from $14.6 trillion earlier this year. Climate activists and pension fund campaigners cheered the arrival of $565 billion Danish pension fund ABP which pledged to divest $17.4 billion in fossil fuels by early 2023.
Starting with a handful of institutions in 2014, the fossil fuel divestment movement has experienced phenomenal growth and now includes 1487 institutions that have committed to divest from fossil fuels. Faith-based institutions are the largest percentage of this total, followed by educational institutions and philanthropic organizations. Pension funds are lagging, making up only 11.8% of the total.
“The fossil-fuel divestment movement is growing at an accelerated clip, because the world has realized where the money flows determines our success in slowing climate change,” said Richard Brooks, climate finance director at environmental nonprofit Stand.earth. “More money simply needs to get out of financially risky coal, oil and gas companies, and switch over to companies driving climate solutions, including renewables.”
A briefing on October 26 announced new commitments to divest from fossil fuels from the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Glasgow (site of COP26), Paris, Seattle, Auckland and Copenhagen through C40 Cities’ Divest/Invest Forum, led by London and New York City, as well as new pledges from more than 70 faith-based institutions, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.
Led by stand.earth, a coalition of divest-invest leaders from nonprofits (350.org), philanthropies (Wallace Global Fund), cities (c40.org) and think tanks (ieefa.org) documented the history and current status of the divest-invest movement in a comprehensive new report. The report takes informed positions on thorny issues such as why partial divestment is not enough; and why shareholder engagement cannot replace divestment.
“Divestment is simple, if it’s wrong to wreck the planet then it’s wrong to profit from it. 39.2 trillion dollars divested shows the power of grassroots organizing and the divestment movement,” said Thomas Lopez, Partnerships Coordinator, Future Coalition. “It’s time for mass divestments to push back on financing the climate crisis and the destruction of the next seven generations.”