WHAT IS FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT?
Divestment is the opposite of investment—it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or funds.
When you invest your money, you might buy stocks, bonds, or other investments that generate income for you. Universities, religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions put billions into these same kinds of investments to generate income. Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors and our biosphere, so we're calling on institutions to set policies to sell their fossil fuel stocks, bonds, and other investments.
KEEPING IT IN THE GROUND
Fossil fuel divestment—like divestment from tobacco stocks, weapons, or apartheid South Africa—is an attempt to exert social, political, and economic pressure to achieve change.
Divestment is also a strategy to revoke the social license of the fossil fuel industry. When funds own fossil fuel stocks, they contribute to the veneer of legitimacy that enables companies to keep expanding operations at a time of climate crisis and to stifle the demands for justice from the communities who live on the frontline of their destructive, polluting operations. The political influence of the fossil fuel industry is the single most powerful brake on legislation we need to transition to a sustainable society. By naming this industry's singularly destructive influence, we're working to break the hold the fossil fuel industry has on our economy and our governments.
To achieve international climate goals, between two-thirds and four-fifths of fossil fuels must remain in the ground. But fossil fuel companies continue to pour money into extracting and selling fossil fuel reserves — all while actively expanding their operations. This means they have a tremendous financial incentive to delay the transition towards a sustainable society and to destroy legislation. It also means that as the world stops depending on fossil fuels, investing in these companies becomes increasingly risky.
DEFUNDING CLIMATE INJUSTICE
People of color and low income communities suffer disproportionate harm from fossil fuel pollution and the discriminatory systems that have perpetuated these inequities. Black, Latine, and low-income Californians are especially likely to live near unplugged oil and gas wells.
The fossil fuel industry is a deeply racist, destructive, and dishonest institution that powers war, environmental destruction, and human rights violations. Even though the climate crisis is here, the industry continues to shut down legislation to mitigate global warming, and profits off of the public health crises it causes in frontline communities.
Divesting from fossil fuels is a clear way to fund what can help heal, not further destroy, our communities and future.
As we transition towards a low-carbon economy, fossil fuel investments will become worthless. These "stranded assets" are creating a $1-4 trillion "carbon bubble" that could plunge the world into another economic crisis.
BlackRock, the largest asset manager on the planet, examined hundreds of funds worldwide and concluded that the portfolios "experienced no negative financial impacts from divesting from fossil fuels." In fact, divested portfolios "outperformed their benchmarks."
Globally, increasing carbon regulations and technological advances in renewable energy are decreasing demand for fossil fuels.
WHO HAS DIVESTED?
Over 1,500 institutions worldwide representing over $40 trillion in assets have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment. That's as if the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and China, combined, chose to divest from fossil fuels.
Divested institutions include universities like Harvard and the University of California; pension fund giants such as PME and CDPQ; entire governments, including Ireland, Maine, and the city of San Diego; individuals from the Pope to the Queen of England; and financial institutions like the Ford and MacArthur Foundations.