september 23, 2014

Rapid increase in institutions pulling money out of fossil fuels

 

  • Institutional divestment commitments more than doubled since January
  • Church of Sweden announces its investments are now fossil free

New York, USA — The number of institutions pledging to divest from fossil fuels more than doubled from 74 to 181 commitments since the beginning of the year. The combined asset size of the 837 institutions and individuals committing to divest amounts to more than $50 billion, with individuals accounting for 2 percent of the total asset size. [1] Former US Vice President Al Gore will present these accomplishment of the fossil fuel divestment movement in a speech to heads of state at the UN Climate Summit in New York today.

On this occasion, the Church of Sweden announced that it has completed its divestment process by ridding itself of its remaining holdings in gas companies. Its assets of $691,292,490 are now fossil free. The Church of Sweden was one of the first institutions to take up divestment. Gunnela Hahn, Head of Responsible Investment at the Church of Sweden says, “As a responsible investor we look upon ourselves as owners of the companies we invest in. We do not want to own, and thereby fund, the extraction of fossil fuels. Instead we want to own and fund companies that stand for solutions. Furthermore we see a financial risk in owning fossil fuel companies. Their value consists to a large extent of fossil fuel reserves that risk losing in value, since they cannot be extracted if we are to have a liveable planet.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu launched a call for divestment by video during a press conference in New York where the achievements of the divestment movement to date were presented. In addition, 80 theological and religious leaders have released a statement in support of fossil fuel divestment. [2] The divestment commitments come from a diverse range of institutions such as universities, faith organisations, foundations, medical institutions and local governments. They include the British Medical Association, the World Council of Churches, Stanford University and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“More and more investors are pulling their money out of climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies. This growing movement won’t bankrupt them financially but it can remove their social licence to operate and take away their political power,” says Tim Ratcliffe, Europe Divestment Coordinator at 350.org.

The fossil fuel divestment movement was initiated by students at a handful of US colleges in 2011. Since then it has rapidly spread to over 500 campaigns globally, urging churches, cities, pension funds and other institutions to divest.

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Contact: Melanie Mattauch, 350.org Europe Communications Coordinator, melanie@350.org, +49151 5812 0184

 

ADDITIONAL QUOTES:

Henrik Grape, Officer of sustainable development at the Church of Sweden says, “If you are serious about the climate as an important issue, you can’t work with climate justice and at the same time have investments pushing development in the opposite direction. This is why it’s important that churches and faith communities allow their words to translate into action in order to turn development in a more sustainable direction. For us, divestment is given. The next step is to direct investments that build the new sustainable society.”

Anders Wejryd, former archbishop of the Church of Sweden says, “Religions have a longer term perspective than today’s politics. That is why our voice is so important to show our responsibility and the need for a just distribution that also crosses generational borders.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu recently issued a plea for an end to the fossil fuel era, saying, “Divest from fossil fuels and invest in a clean energy future benefiting the world’s majority. It is no longer acceptable for any of us to seek to profit from systems and industries that threaten our values. Move your money out of the problem and into solutions.”

 

FOR EDITORS

[1] Report: Arabella Advisors ‘Measuring the global fossil fuel divestment movement’ (September 22, 2014)

[2] Divest & Reinvest Statement from Theologians and Religious Leaders

For more information about the fossil fuel divestment movement: https://gofossilfree.org/

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