Quantcast
Business

Is Your Retirement Invested in Fossil Fuels?

With more than 91 million Americans having $5.6 trillion invested in the five major fund families that control recordkeeping at 75 percent of all employer-sponsored retirement plans, you've got to figure that many people are investing in companies not aligned with their values. With divest from fossil fuel campaigns gaining significant momentum, even if you want to divest from carbon, how can you really be sure your money is invested in companies you want to see prosper?

Fortunately for people that want to make sure their money isn't underwriting the fossil fuel industry, a new free-to-the-public web tool is now available—FossilFreeFunds.org. Launched today by the shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow, Fossil Free Funds is the first website that allows investors to compare mutual funds' holdings against the Carbon Underground 200 list—the 100 largest coal and 100 largest oil/gas companies—fossil-fired utilities and coal holdings. With a tool this powerful, people can now rest assured that their investments aren't contributing to climate change.

And, for those interested in joining the thousands of foundations and individuals, with assets totaling more than $50 billion, as of September 2014, to take the Divest-Invest pledge to decarbonize their investments, stripping these companies from one's portfolio is the minimum requirement.

“Since the beginning of the divestment movement, investors have been clamoring for transparency and a way to identify how they can use their portfolios to actively combat climate change," said Andrew Behar, As You Sow's CEO. “We developed FossilFreeFunds.org after we realized that our own 401(k) was composed of mutual funds that had major oil, gas and coal extraction companies—but we had no idea. We figured that if we didn't know, then probably no one did. This tool gives everyone the power to truly know what they own, so they can own what they own."

As You Sow uses Morningstar fund holding data in collaboration with Carbon Underground 200, Carbon Tracker Initiative, BrightScope and HIP investor. The online tool reveals where fossil fuel holdings are hiding in 1,500 of the most-held mutual funds. Since the five major fund families—including Fidelity, Vanguard and TIAA-CREF—do not offer any diversified mutual funds that are socially responsible and free of the 200 largest fossil fuel companies, consumers have lacked the information and transparency they need to make adequate decisions about where to invest their money.

“With comprehensive fund holdings data, we are able to provide greater transparency and help investors better evaluate the sustainable and ethical effect of their investments," said Joanna McGinley, head of global redistributor solutions for Morningstar. According to Julie Fox Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Pax World Management LLC, “There are many things investors can do to address the risks created by climate change, especially the risks created by combustion of fossil fuels. One is to avoid fossil fuel stocks."

Interested in going completely “fossil free" with your investments? Fossil Free Funds provides an easy-to-use platform which screens for coal, smaller oil/gas companies, service industries (e.g. Halliburton) and fossil-fired utilities.

Read page 1

As You Sow explains, "Funds that are clear of investments in a given segment earn a green badge. Funds can earn a maximum of five badges. Out of the 1,500 funds with the highest plan count, only 12 diversified and SRI funds have earned the five badge rating, including Parnassus Endeavor fund (PARWX), Portfolio 21 Global Equity (PORTX), USA Mutuals Barrier (VICEX), Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth (BAWAX), PAX World Growth (PXGAX), Green Century Balanced (GCBLX), Gabelli SRI (SRIGX) and Shelton Green Alpha (NEXTX)."

Here's an example of searching the SPDR S&P 500 ETF on FossilFreeFunds.org:

According to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, 71 percent of active individual investors describe themselves as interested in sustainable investing, while nearly 65 percent believe sustainable investing will become more prevalent over the next five years, with millennials and women at the forefront of sustainable investing. The Fossil Free Funds tool helps empower these consumers to get to the bottom of where oil, gas and coal investments are hiding in their portfolios, so they can sell mutual funds that don't align with their objectives and reinvest in funds that do, or work with their financial advisors to divest and reinvest.

But what happens if employees options don't provide a fossil free alternative? Consumers can download a 401(k) toolkit to help them advocate with their retirement plan administrators to include fossil free investment options.

According to Fox Gorte, "At some point, fossil fuels will be stranded assets; this is already happening to coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Michael Bloomberg recently noted that in his blog, 'Obama Didn't Kill Coal, the Market Did.' Citigroup recently reported that if we are to limit future warming to 2ᵒ C, $100 trillion worth of fossil fuel reserves will become stranded assets. This won't happen overnight, but however it does, investors who are not prepared for it will wish they were."

And, as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said, "None of us want to fund the destruction of the planet—here's an easy tool to make sure you're not, and to turn you into a champion of solutions."

Behar was recently interviewed about the launch of FossilFreeFunds.org by Diana Dehm of Sustainability News on LA Talk Radio. Listen here:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Koch Brothers: Apocalyptical Forces of Ignorance and Greed, Says RFK Jr.

Burning All of the World's Fossil Fuels Would Completely Melt the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Neglect Over Climate Change Is Putting My Generation of Skiers on Styrofoam Snow

5 Ways Pope Francis Has Shocked Conservative Christians

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!