More and more investors ditch fossil fuels: Divestments reach $11tn

A report from investor campaign DivestInvest has announced that the Fossil Free movement has surpassed its $11tn commitment to divestment from fossil fuels. Describing this figure as a major milestone in the effort to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the campaign group has set a new goal of committing even more institutions to divesting a sum of $15tn by 2020.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels has become more and more popular in recent years. The University of Liverpool recently announced a divestment in fossil fuel industries following student protests, reported on here. While some of these divestments have resulted from a moral repositioning on the part of organisations and institutions, some are now reacting to market trends that have been leaning further in the direction of renewables as of late. According to DivestInvest’s report, the fossil fuel industry has been performing poorly in recent years, with US-headquartered fossil fuel companies finding themselves at the bottom of the S&P 500 in 2018. Fossil-free industries have been outperforming some of these sectors, largely due to increased renewable competitiveness, as costs for producing renewable energy continue to drop. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has been reported to have lost over $90bn of its investor’s funds due to its continued investments in fossil fuel industries, reported on here. The increasing competitiveness of renewables, along with their increasing public favourability against fossil fuels, has made divestment from fossil fuels a feasible option for investors looking to avoid the losses and public scrutiny experienced by BlackRock.

While assets committed to divestment were reported at $52bn in 2014, the past five years have seen an increase of 22,000 per cent to reach today’s figure of $11tn. Over 1,110 institutions have been involved in reaching this figure, ranging from schools and churches to banks and large asset managers. Some notable participants include Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Amundi Asset Management, Allianz insurance and Chubb Ltd, along with numerous others. Campaigners have praised local activists. Ahmed Mokgopo, a divestment campaigner for has stated: “These numbers are strong indicators that people power is winning. We would not have smashed our divestment targets without the thousands of local groups who have pressured their representatives to pull out of fossil fuels.”

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