WASHINGTON - November 8
The international campaign to divest from the Top 200 fossil fuels continues to make waves across the globe. A summary of recent news is below. The campaign has already spread to over 400 colleges, cities, and religious institutions in the United States and is growing quickly in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and across Europe, where the Fossil Free Europe tour just concluded. Follow the campaign at gofossilfree.org.
Generation Foundation report warns of stranded carbon assets
On October 30, The Generation Foundation released a report on investor risk from stranded carbon assets and how this risk should be incorporated into investment analyses. Al Gore and London based asset manager David Blood described the report’s findings and compared the carbon bubble to the housing bubble in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “That is exactly what is happening with the subprime carbon asset bubble: It is still growing because most market participants are mistakenly treating carbon risk as an uncertainty, and are thus failing to incorporate it in investment analyses. By overlooking a known material-risk factor, investors are exposing their portfolios to an externality that should be integrated into the capital allocation process.”
Oxford study on growing fossil fuel divestment campaign says it’s experiencing the fastest growth in recent times
On October 7, the University of Oxford released a new report that found that the fossil fuel divestment campaign is growing faster than any previous divestment effort. “Stigmatisation poses a far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies – any direct impacts of divestment pale in comparison,” said Ben Caldecott, a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and an author of the report. “In every case we reviewed, divestment campaigns were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation.”
Boxtel, Netherlands becomes 1st municipality in Europe to divest
On November 1, the Dutch town of Boxtel announced that it will become the first municipality in Europe to divest from fossil fuels companies. This follows its decision to ban fracking in August. Boxtel also announced that it will hold a conference in December to urge other cities to drop their holdings in fossil fuels companies.
Quakers in Britain announce intention to divest
On October 8th, Quakers in Britain announced that investing in companies which are engaged in fossil fuel extraction is “incompatible with their commitment made in 2011 to become a sustainable low-carbon community.” The move means that Quakers will drop their investments in Statoil and BG Group.
Norway’s $800bn Sovereign Wealth Fund moves toward coal divestment
Norway’s $800bn Sovereign Wealth Fund (NBIM) is likely to divest from coal assets, with support from the Labor party. The questions now appear to be if the fund will also divest from coal mining and from utilities that use coal generated power. More information is here.
Naropa College in Colorado and Foothill-De Anza Community College in California divest
On October 31, Naropa’s board of trustees voted to divest, concluding that it “would not threaten the stability of their stock portfolio, and that continuing to practice shareholder activism involving those companies would not result in significant changes in behavior.”
On October 23, De Anza Community College became for the first community college in the U.S to divest. A full list of divestment commitments can be found here.
Brown University announces it won’t divest from coal
It’s still an open question which school will be the first Ivy to divest. On Oct. 27, Brown President Christina Paxson wrote an email to students informing them that the Brown Corporation, responsible for managing Brown’s $3 billion endowment, would not divest from major coal companies. “The existence of social harm is a necessary but not sufficient rationale for Brown to divest,” Paxson wrote. The response from Brown Divestment from Coal is here.
350.org and partners launch personal divestment guide
As grassroots divestment campaigns take hold of institutions across the country, many individuals are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to divest their personal finances from fossil fuels. 350.org and partners have published a website that helps to guide individuals through the process of personally divesting their investments from fossil fuels, which will help to protect them againstrisks from the carbon bubble.