Press release / 26 October 2021

New report: 33.7 billion euro's worth of assets have committed to fossil fuel divestment

Today, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, the fossil fuel divest-invest movement released a new report that details how institutions representing an unprecedented total of EUR 33.7 trillion worth of assets have now committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment, a figure that's higher than the annual GDP of the United States and China combined.

At a briefing today, the movement also announced new commitments to divest from fossil fuels from the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Glasgow (site of COP26), Paris, Seattle, Auckland and Copenhagen through C40 Cities' Divest/Invest Forum, led by London and New York City, as well as more than 70 faith institutions, including the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland. There are now 1,485 institutions from 71 countries that have committed to fossil fuel divestment. Student activists also announced new legal developments in their long running campaigns against universities.

Winning strategy

The movement, a coalition of several different grassroots organizations, philanthropies, and advocacy groups, also provided proof that divest-invest is a winning strategy. Through recent research and case studies, Invest-Divest 2021: A Decade of Progress Towards a Just Climate Future makes the case that divestment has been successful at holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the true cost of their unregulated carbon pollution and chipping away at their political power. It reviews recent market data to prove that a divest-invest strategy is the most financially responsible path for institutional investors.

Invest Divest 2021

Today's 39-page report marks the tenth anniversary of the movement, which began on U.S. college campuses. Among its findings:

  • Divestment is winning. With iconic, sector-leading institutions like Harvard University, Dutch and Canadian pension fund giants PME and CDPQ, French public bank La Banque Postale, and the Ford Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committing to divest in just the past few months, the movement has reached a threshold moment. It is increasingly difficult for major institutions to make the argument that ongoing fossil fuel investment is wise.
  • The movement is growing fast. Public divestment commitments have grown by 49 percent in just the last three years. There are now 1,485 different institutions committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment in 71 countries around the world, representing a total of $39.2 million in assets under management. The assets under management metric is standard within the financial sector, is useful for comparing the size of the movement to other components of the economy, and is easily verifiable. Not all companies included in this list have fully divested all assets from fossil fuels, which remains a movement demand (see below). This number only tracks public commitments to divest, the true amount of fossil fuel divestment is almost certainly significantly larger.
  • With 10 years of data there is now hard evidence that divestment is a winning financial strategy. Early adopters of divestment strategies are reporting neutral or positive financial results. Surveys and analyses by Wall Street firms support it.
  • Despite recent short-term surges, the outlook for fossil fuels is grim. Long-term trends unmistakably point to a decline in value for fossil fuel investments, and major financial analysts agree that it's only going to get worse.
  • The movement is now a market factor. Oil companies and market analysts both say the movement has gotten so big it is affecting fossil fuel company profits.
  • Engagement is not enough. Shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies, which some investors have tried to suggest as an alternative to divestment, has proven ineffective and too slow.
  • More investment in climate solutions is badly needed. While divestment has been winning, there is much more that needs to be done investing in climate solutions. We need to triple the amount of money flowing into renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure.
  • A just transition makes sense for everyone. We need a "just transition" to a clean energy economy, one that supports communities and workers that have depended on the fossil fuel economy and centers economic, gender, and racial justice. The transition also must include the nearly one billion people who don't have access to energy today. Investing in such a transition supports the values of mission-based investors, and the economic goals of all investors.

More information:

The full press release:

The report Invest Divest 2021

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