Seven years ago, the Divest-Invest movement started on a small campus in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A handful of student activists managed to convince the university to withdraw money invested in fossil fuels. Since then, other campuses have joined the movement successfully, but most importantly, the movement has spread across all sectors: churches, foundations, newspapers, pension funds, physician associations, museums, and even countries, such as Ireland.
Today, nearly 1,000 institutional investors, holding $6 trillion in assets, have decided to stop funding fossil fuels, according to a new report published by 350.org, the association at the origin of the Divest-Invest initiative. In four years, assets managed have multiplied by 120, and countries such as India, Pakistan, Fiji or Bangladesh are riding the bandwagon.
This week, New York and London created the event by announcing their disengagement from the most polluting sources of energy. In the British capital, the London Pension Fund Authority plans to sell its fossil fuel reserves, while the city of New York will withdraw $5 billion from more than 190 companies.
$10 trillion by 2020
"Fossil fuel divestment has become a global phenomenon," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "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.”
To continue this momentum, the Divest-Invest movement has launched a bold new challenge for investors: to reach $10 trillion in assets by 2020. They have also called on investors to withdraw from companies that have taken the path to energy transition by 2020 and to invest 5% of their portfolio in the energy transition, because the idea is indeed to move from divesting in fossil fuels to reinvesting in renewable energy.
Concepcion Alvarez, @conce1