September 10, 2018

Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Reaches $6.24 Trillion in Assets Under Management, 120x Increase From Four Years Ago, Report Says

Movement Calls on Investors to Reach $10 Trillion by 2020 to Align with Paris Agreement

San Francisco, CA — The global fossil fuel divestment movement released a new report on Monday showcasing an incredible growth in scale and impact for the growing movement. According to the “Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement” report compiled by Arabella Advisors, close to 1000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels, up from $52 billion just four years ago. That’s a 120x increase from just four years ago.  

Highlights from the report included below.

“Fossil fuel divestment has become a global phenomenon,” said 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 it was first launched by students as a moral call to climate action in 2011, the fossil fuel divestment movement has grown tremendously in impact and scope, with new divestment commitments from a broad array of institutions ranging from medical associations, to religious institutions, to museums, who are dropping fossil fuel company sponsorships. In 2018, the movement also saw new growth outside the United States and Europe, with divestment commitments from Pakistan, India, Fiji and Bangladesh. and partners are planning a Global Divestment Conference in South Africa in 2019 to spark even more commitments from institutions across the Global South. The report was unveiled at an event hosted by the Wallace Global Fund following from the Rise for Climate global mobilization and ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. It featured high profile speakers including world-renowned investor Jeremy Grantham and the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, and others.

At the event, the divestment movement put forward a bold new challenge to investors to reach $10 trillion worth of divested assets by the year 2020 in order to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement. They also called on investors to put a deadline on “engagement” efforts with the industry and pledge to divest if companies refused to change by 2020.

“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.”  

Highlights from the new report:

According to the new report, 2018 is a year of many firsts for the divestment movement:

  • Today, London and New York, the world’s financial heartbeats, are throwing their weight behind a new Divest Invest Cities Forum. The forum, led by C40, will work with other cities around the world to divest and invest in climate solutions that grow local jobs and resilience.
  • In July, Ireland became the first nation in the world to divest from fossil fuels. “I am pleased Ireland’s lower house of parliament voted to become the first country to formally divest from fossil fuels,” said Thomas Pringle, the Irish independent lawmaker that drove the bill to divest the nation’s €8.9 billion ($10.4 billion) national investment fund. “This shows that our nation is ready to think and act beyond narrow short-term and vested interests.”
  • Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a plan to divest New York’s $189 billion pension fund from fossil fuel companies within five years. This announcement follows similar actions in Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, New Zealand, and Sydney in previous years.
  • Doctors are divesting, with the American Medical Association, the Royal College General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Students’ Association making commitments over the past month. “We are so proud to have recently announced that we will be divesting from fossil fuels,” said Alex Farrell, President of the Australian Medical Students’ Association. “Climate change is the single biggest global health threat of this century. As the future doctors of Australia, we want to invest in a healthy future because we know there is more to medicine than simply treating illnesses once our patients are already sick. Part of the cure for climate change is a rapid transition from fossil fuels to clean, cheap renewable energy.”
  • Commitments from faith-based organizations are soaring with the backing of Pope Francis, with 132 new commitments since 2016. Today, we welcome the first divestment from India by Caritas India.
  • Museums are moving, with the Canadian Museum of History, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and two museums in the Hague agreeing to drop fossil fuel company sponsorships this year. They join the Tate Museum, the London Science Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Phipps Conservatory and others before them.
  • Philanthropic commitments are growing. The largest community foundation in Australia has also just committed to divest: “Australian Communities Foundation is proud to be part of this momentous commitment to invest our corpus into a healthy and sustainable world. As Australia’s oldest and largest community foundation, we hope to inspire others to join the Divest Invest movement,” said Maree Sidey, CEO of Australian Communities Foundation.



Yossi Cadan

Global Divestment Senior Campaigner

Jamie Henn

Strategy and Communications Director


About 350

350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries.

About DivestInvest

DivestInvest is a global network of campaigners and analysts whose goal is to accelerate the clean energy transition by undercutting the political and financial power of the fossil fuel industry, and inspiring investors to move their money from the past to the future.