The fossil fuel divestment movement is centred around the idea that the removal of assets from bodies or institutions with vested interests in the production and sale of fossil fuels will reduce the acceleration of climate change and will force policy-makers to take the issue seriously.
It was Stanford University that signalled the beginning of the divestment movement. With a campaign that was launched in 2012, by May 2014 Stanford University was the first body to divest significant fossil fuel investments from over 100 coal companies. Since, many have followed in its footsteps, with charities, foundations, companies, educational institutions, governments and even whole cities and states taking the steps forward to divestment, too.
The global fossil fuel divestment movement has attracted international attention from both the speed at which it has gained momentum and the mass support it has generated since its inception. Fossil fuel divestment, as the fastest growing divestment movement in history, is the best tool we have to grab the attention of policy makers.
Not only is this a green campaign, but it is also financial: further investment into fossil fuels that need to stay in the ground is a financial dead-end, one that has been realised by many already with wide commitments and endorsements of the cause.
Want to get involved?
NEW: Fossil Free UK are facillating a week of global divestment mobilization from 5-13 May, 2017. People from all over the world are coming together for local action on divestment - some ideas include organising a meeting with your local council or demonstrating outside buildings that haven't divested from fossil fuels, but you may wish to do something completely different. To find out more about this and to join local events or even to organise your own, visit Fossil Free UK's website here.
The Guardian began their own campaign to keep the remaining fossil fuel reserves we have left in the ground exactly where they need to be: in the ground.
Their campaign targets The Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, asking the respective directors to divest their funds from fossil fuel companies. So far, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have declined to comment, and you can read more about the response of The Wellcome Trust Below.
Sign The Guardian petition here.
The Wellcome Trust have refused to divest their £450 million (2014) investment into fossil fuels, arguing instead that it is more logical to negotiate with these companies, as investment equates to leverage.
There are loads of ways to make sure your voice in the divestment movement is heard. Move Your Money UK are busy encouraging individuals to send emails to their banks asking them to divest from fossil fuels - see here to participate!
Karl Horton, a member of the East Sussex Pension Fund, has started a petition to try and get the council to fully divest from fossil fuels. He has urged all East Sussex residents to sign the petition. You can help by either signing the petition, or by sharing the article on social media.
Click here to join a campaign near you!
The support for the international divestment movement has been staggering. As of the 22nd May 2015, Axa, the global insurance giant, has committed itself to a tripling of its investments into green technologies whilst simultaneously divesting a whopping £350,000,00 of its assets from coal companies.
And, as of 5th June 2015, Norway has pledged its committment to divesting from coal investments from its sovereign wealth fund: around a whopping $8 billion! The move will affect over 122 companies worldwide and will have particular reeling ramifications on companies such as Drax, who plan to build more nuclear power stations in the UK. This comes as the largest divestment pledge yet, and with it comes hope that it will set the tone for future divestments of equal or greater measure.
After a two year struggle, students at Warwick University are celebrating as the university pledges to divest from its £14,000,000 endowment in coal, oil and gas assets, and becomes the seventh British university to divest.
The power of the students has made a resounding impact on Oxford University, too. The university's decision not to divest was met with opposing demands from students, staff and alumni; notably, some of the latter of which, including George Monbiot, were preparing to hand back their degrees if a different decision was not made. Following this however, a partial U-turn has been made on divestment pledges from a full rejection to a commitment not to invest further coal and tar sands, but no direct commitment to divest from fossil fuels entirely. Baby steps...
As of 23rd September 2016, London Borough's Waltham Forest's pension fund committee has become the first UK public authority to announce its commitment to go 100% fossil free. All £23.9 million, that was invested in fossil fuel comapnies, will be divested to invest in sustainable enery, transport and housing.
As of 2nd November 2016, Sheffield City has become the "largest of nine UK councils to pass divestment policy". Sheffield City Council passed a motion to fully commit to divesting from fossil fuels, with commitments from both the council and its universities. The commitment will also apply to the South Yorkshire Pension fund, which the Sheffield City Council contributes to.
43 British universities are divesting from fossil fuels, which is a quarter of the total number in Britain.