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Climate change: More than 1000 institutions pledge to withdraw investment from fossil fuels

‘This is a moral movement as well as a financial one,’ campaigners say

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Thursday 13 December 2018 19:51 GMT
Over 1,000 institutions from around the world say no to fossil fuels

Governments, universities and banks have quit fossil fuels in their hundreds after a global campaign to convince institutions to pull their investments.

A milestone achievement has been announced at key climate talks taking place in Poland as the initiative persuaded 1,000 institutions opting to divest from coal, oil, and gas companies.

The total sum of money being withdrawn since the campaign began in 2012 is now approaching $8 trillion (£6.3 trillion).

Pressure is mounting for nations and businesses to eradicate fossil fuels altogether after scientists warned it was the only way to avoid disastrous global warming within decades.

However, efforts to arrive at international agreements have stalled at the COP24 summit as negotiators failed to reach a compromise on issues like green finance.

“While diplomats at the UN climate talks are having a hard time making progress, our movement has changed how society perceives the role of fossil fuel corporations and is actively keeping fossil fuels in the ground,” said May Boeve, executive director of, the group running the campaign.

Pledges to divest from fossil fuels now span 37 countries, and include major capital cities such as New York, as well as mainstream banks and insurance companies.

In July Ireland became the world’s first country to make a pledge to sell off the fossil fuel components in its €8bn (£7.2bn) national investment fund.

Meanwhile hundreds of MPs from across the political spectrum in the UK have called for fossil fuel investments to be dropped from their pension fund.

Faith organisations such as the Quakers and the Church of England have led the charge, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the divesters.

“This is a moral movement as well as a financial one,” said organiser Nico Haeringer, who supports divesting groups around the world.

“Just five years ago we had 181 divestment commitments and $50bn shifted away from polluting industries and today we’re over 1000 and approaching $8tn.”

Miriam Frank, a community organiser of a local campaign, attended the announcement at COP24.

“Divesting the Hebrew University’s investments from fossil fuels contributes to weakening the legitimacy of the fossil fuel industry, by calling them out for the harm they cause to our planet and the exploitation of people,” she said.

The campaigners said their goals were to get millions of people directly involved in fighting against climate change, and reduce the power of the fossil fuel industry over politicians and climate policy.

They say that early reports suggest divestment is already having an impact on fossil fuel share prices, and may have helped accelerate a decline in coal.

Nations are expected to set firm targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 at the latest, and by this date wants to achieve $12tn in divested assets.

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