Fossil fuel divestment is gaining momentum

Fossil fuel divestment protest

(Updated in November 2019)

Institutional divestment from fossil fuel companies is gaining serious momentum. Today, over 1,100 institutions with over $11 trillion in investments are in various stages of divesting from fossil fuels, along with over 58,000 individuals. Divestment is no longer seen as just a symbolic or moral act anymore. Many now see it as a fiscally responsible decisionincluding the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world (Norway’s) which is worth $1 trillion.

One of the strongest and most symbolic moves came this January from the financial powerhouse of New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to completely divest the city’s $189 billion of pension funds from fossil fuels. De Blasio simultaneously announced a lawsuit against the five fossil fuel companies who have contributed the most to climate change. New York is “seeking to collect billions of dollars in damages to pay for city efforts to cope with the effects of climate change.” Their rationale? “Oil companies were aware for years that burning fossil fuels caused climate change but hid the conclusions of their own scientists.” This is huge.

New York joins major cities around the world such as Washington D.C., San Francisco, Paris, Melbourne, Oslo, Capetown, and Berlin to name a few. Even a couple Rockefeller organizations have joined the party.

This is all welcome news as divestment has proven to be effective before. It played a significant role in South Africa in the 80’s and 90’s when the voices and actions of people around the world eventually helped to force the hand of the few in power to end apartheid. 

This post originally featured in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter below!

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