Quantcast

First Country in the World Dumps Fossil Fuels As Divestment Movement Heats Up

Back in 2012, Bill McKibben with fellow activists including Naomi Klein, Winona LaDukeJosh Fox and Reverend Lennox Yearwood began a nationwide tour to promote fossil fuel divestment—that is, selling off your shares in fossil fuel companies–in an effort to combat climate change.

"Norway made all its money on oil, but now it's dumping its fossil fuel stocks. It's the Rockefeller of countries," said Bill McKibben. Photo credit: Fossil Free

With action in Congress impossible, McKibben saw college campuses—known for being laboratories of democracy—as ground zero in the campaign for divestment. With his 'Do the Math' campaign in sold-out concert halls across America, McKibben and others were able to launch Fossil Free, an international network of divestment campaigns. It's a project of the larger organization 350.org. Flash forward three years and the movement has made impressive strides.

Fossil Free lists divestment commitments from 24 colleges and universities, 37 cities, 2 counties, 69 religious institutions, 30 foundations and 13 other institutions—most notably the Rockefeller Brothers Fund last September. That's right, the organization endowed by the co-founder of the Standard Oil Company has committed to fossil fuel divestment. Additionally, the international Invest-Divest coalition announced last September divestment commitments for $45 billion in assets from nearly 700 financial institutions.

In January, Goddard College in Vermont, University of Bedfordshire in the UK, California Institute of the Arts, University of Maine and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden joined the growing number of colleges and universities that think it's wrong to profit from the destruction of the planet.

The top 500 or so university endowments hold nearly $400 billion. "Add in the big state pension funds and church, synagogue and mosque investments, and we’re well on our way" to threatening the "viability of the fossil fuel industry's business model," according to Fossil Free. Even if we only move "one percent of the $400 billion in university endowments towards sustainable alternatives," that's $4 billion worth of new investments in renewable energy, says the rapidly growing nonprofit.

The United Methodist Church has now joined the more than 60 religious organizations taking a stand. The church's pension fund will screen coal from its investments. “Our denomination is on the front lines of climate change mitigation and recovery efforts worldwide," said Reverend Jenny Phillips, coordinator of Fossil Free UMC. "It doesn’t make sense for our pensions and ministries to depend on the flourishing of the companies that are wreaking this havoc.” And now, Fossil Free is urging Pope Francis to divest, as well.

February brought even more excitement for the global divestment campaign. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global reported yesterday that a total of 114 companies had been dumped because of their risk to the climate, according to The Guardian. While the wealth fund moved billions of dollars in assets out of shares in fossil fuel companies, it still has billions invested in other fossil fuel companies.

Still, as the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, its move to divest has a large impact. Here's a tweet by Bill McKibben yesterday sharing the news:

The wealth fund's announcement arrives on the heels of the Norwegian government's announcement on Feb. 4 that, by 2030, it will cut its carbon emissions by at least 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.

All of this news brings strong momentum to Global Divestment Day. On Feb. 13-14, people all over the world are showing their commitment to taking on the fossil fuel industry. From South Africa to Mexico, Bangladesh to Benin, there will be events all over the world and there are so many reasons to join the fight.

Watch Fossil Free's video for Global Divestment Day:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

10 Reasons to Join Global Divestment Day

Sustainable Energy Revolution Grows, Says Bloomberg Report

Climate Change Is Young People’s ‘Lunch Counter Moment’

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The head of England's Environment Agency has urged people to stop watering their lawns as a climate-induced water shortage looms. Pexels

England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

Read More Show Less
A flock of parrots in Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. ~dgies / Flickr

By Madison Dapcevich

Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

Read More Show Less