Over 500 institutions pledge to end fossil fuel investment

19 French cities, including Paris, join global movement to divest shares in oil and gas

Smoke belches from an oil refinery at Feyzin, outside Lyon. Nineteen French cities have committed to end fossil fuel investments. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Smoke belches from an oil refinery at Feyzin, outside Lyon. Nineteen French cities have committed to end fossil fuel investments. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

More than 500 institutions worldwide, with assets totalling more than €3 trillion, have made some form of commitment to divest from fossil fuels, according to campaign groups 350.org and Divest-Invest.

They said the latest commitments, some of which are “partial”, represent another coup for the divestment campaign, “showing that investors are reading the writing on the wall and dramatically shifting capital away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy”.

Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates joined with a group of well-heeled investors on Monday to announce the launch of a multi-billion dollar private sector coalition to accelerate clean energy innovation.

“Other voices, including many of the world’s most vulnerable countries, are demanding that the Paris agreement send a clear signal that the age of fossil fuels has come to an end and the dawn of renewables is irreversible,” the campaigners said.

The institutions joining the divestment movement hope that their actions can push governments to follow suit by shifting public finance from fossil fuels to climate solutions as well as phasing out billions of dollars in subsidies for coal, oil and gas.

Ahead of COP21, commitments to divest from fossil fuels were made by 19 French cities, including Paris, Lille, Bordeaux, Dijon and Rennes.

On November 25th, the French National Assembly adopted a resolution encouraging public investors not to invest in this sector.

The French Ensemble Foundation, which has given more than €26 million to environmental causes around the world since 2004, also announced that it will join European Divest-Invest and withdraw its remaining shareholding in fossil fuel companies.

Uppsala in Sweden has also joined the movement, while Münster became the first city in Germany to divest completely from fossil fuels.

Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, also committed to go fossil free in advance of the Paris climate summit.

Oslo in Norway, announced that it will divest its €8 billion pension fund from coal, oil and gas companies, becoming the first capital city in the world to ban investments in fossil fuels, while Dutch pension fund PFZW said it will divest from coal companies.

Allianz, Europe’s largest insurance company, divested €630 million of its capital investment portfolio from coal, and is reinvesting over €4 billion in wind energy over the next sex months, making the moral and economic case for investing in cleaner technologies

The London School of Economics dropped all its direct and indirect holdings in coal and tar sands, and all direct holdings of fossil fuel companies. It has been followed by Oxford Brookes University, Sheffield University, Wolfson College Oxford and others.

CCLA, which manages investments for Birmingham City University, Cranfiled University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Portsmouth, University of Westminster also excluded coal and tar sands from its investment portfolios.

APRA AMCOS, the biggest music industry group in the southern hemisphere announced that it is starting to divest from all fossil fuels. Last year, the organisation distributed nearly €236 million in royalties to its 87,000 songwriter and composer members.

In a joint-letter two weeks ago, renowned economists Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth, said the financial community had “a vital role to play” in reducing dependency on fossil fuels.