The fossil fuel divestment movement which has so influenced the global economic and energy sectors over the past five years has hit a new milestone, surpassing $6.24 trillion in assets committed to fossil fuel divestment, up from only $52 billion only four years ago.
The global divestment movement has been one of the big drivers of environmental action over the past five years, with corporations, financial and educational institutions, and private investors committing to free themselves from all investment in fossil fuel ownership and investment.
A new report published on Monday by global grassroots climate movement 350.org highlights the true extent of just how invasive and pervasive the global divestment movement has become. Specifically, according to the report — Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement, compiled by Arabelle Advisors — nearly 1,000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets under management have committed to divest from fossil fuels, up from only $52 billion four years ago.
“Fossil fuel divestment has become a global phenomenon,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “2018 was a breakthrough year for the movement, with new divestment commitments from New York City, the entire country of Ireland, and hundreds of other iconic institutions. As we see the devastation from climate impacts unfold worldwide, the public is turning rapidly away from fossil fuels and it’s time for politicians to follow.”
“Since its launch by students as a moral call to climate action in 2011, the fossil fuel divestment campaign has become a mainstream financial movement mobilizing trillions of dollars in support of the clean energy transition,” the authors of the report begin, going on to highlight the fact that “divestment commitments have been driven primarily by global insurance companies, pension funds, and other large asset owners.” Specifically, the insurance sector has committed to divest more than $3 trillion in assets, with big-name institutions such as AXA and Lloyd’s of London among those moving to divest from coal companies or ceasing to underwrite coal projects.
Sovereign wealth funds, as well as city and public pension funds, are also making good on the global divestment movement, as are faith-based organizations, which boast an additional 138 institutions committing to divestment since 2016, influenced in part by Pope Francis and other church leaders which has seen the Catholic church make 103 commitments so far.
The new report was unveiled at an event hosted by the Wallace Global Fund in advance of the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit to be held this week in San Francisco. The event was also host to a new challenge put forward by the divestment movement to investors to reach $10 trillion worth of divested assets by 2020 in order to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Institutional investors must be Paris-compliant, not just governments,” said Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of Wallace Global Fund. “Today, our movement pledges to increase divested global assets to $10 trillion by 2020 to have a fighting chance of meeting the Paris goals. Investors should also commit at least 5 percent of their portfolio to climate solutions to help rapidly scale to 100% renewable energy and universal energy access. For those investors who persist in engaging with the industry, we ask them to set 2020 as the time limit for engagement: If companies cannot or will not produce 2-degree transition plans by then, investors must divest or they will own climate change and its impacts.”