The fossil fuel divestment movement is using its increasing momentum to pressure institutions, from universities to pension funds, to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in its global day of action, taking place over February 13-14.
The day of action will see events and campaigns occurring across the globe, including flashmobs, sit-ins, a campaign to raise awareness about the carbon bubble threat and activists launching a campaign that targets Californian pension funds. In South Africa, where the divestment movement of the 1980s played a role in bringing down the apartheid regime, there will be a particular focus on the country’s banks, which finance the fossil fuel industry.
The fossil fuel divestment campaign launched in 2012 in the US but has since spread around the world, gaining particular traction in Europe and Australia. Institutions that have committed to divesting in the last three years represent over $50 billion (£32bn) in assets.
May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said, “The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown exponentially over the last two years – now it’s going global. From the Pacific Islands to South Africa, from the United States to Germany, people are standing up and challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. We know that fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future.”
Campaigns have often focused on making the moral case for divestment. However, research suggests that to avoid dangerous levels of climate change the majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground and as governments increasingly implement low-carbon policies the financial case for divestment is becoming more apparent, with some investors raising concerns.
Payal Parekh, global managing director for 350.org, commented, “Divestment serves as a key tool for moving the world beyond fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
“The divestment movement is modelling what governments need to be doing: withdrawing funds from the problem and investing in solution. That’s the best way to ensure a brighter future for both people and planet.”
Photo: oatsy40 via Flickr