On September 10th 2018, WGF co-sponsored the fourth global divestment announcement, with speakers including Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jeremy Grantham, CBE, Founder and Chief Investment Strategist at GMO; Thomas Pringle, of the Teachta Dala of Ireland who led that nation’s historic pledge to divest; Father Paul Moonjely of Caritas India; and Dr. Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of Health Practitioners. Simultaneously New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and London Mayor Sadiq Kahn announced the launch of the Cities Divest/Invest Forum, calling on the mayors of the world to join this landmark movement.
WGF has proudly supported the fossil fuel divestment movement since its inception. In just 7 years, grassroots advocacy calling for investors to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions has exploded to a full blown global social movement.
The first global divestment announcement was held in 2014, and marked $52 Billion in assets under management divested. Four years later, WGF, 350.org and the Divest-Invest Network gathered on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit to release a new analysis reporting that over 1000 institutional investors with $6.3 Trillion in assets under management have committed to divestment from fossil fuels. This reflects a nearly 12,000% increase from the first announcement four years ago.
WGF Executive Director Ellen Dorsey offered this call to action:
Today, our movement pledges to increase divested global assets to $10T by 2020, up from $6.3T today and $52 billion in 2014. The movement will continue to pressure all institutional investors to divest immediately as a global imperative.
All investors should divest for ethical, financial, and fiduciary reasons. Like governments, institutional investors have a fundamental responsibility to contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement, which requires emissions to peak no later than 2020.
We further call on investors to commit at least 5 percent of their portfolio to climate solutions, scaling rapidly to help secure 100% renewable energy and universal energy access. Investments should also support a just transition for workers and communities dependent on fossil fuel industries.
The limits on the effectiveness of shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies has been made clear, as illustrated in this new report from As You Sow. For investors who persist in engaging with the fossil fuel industry, we call on you to set a time limit for engagement and tie it explicitly to a commitment to divest. We all know that the climate countdown is accelerating. There is time for only one last call to companies to deliver Paris-compliant transition plans by 2020, based on a global analysis of their share of the carbon budget. If companies refuse to comply with this final effort at engagement, their status as rogue global actors will be unmistakable and shareholders must divest. Investors, if you continue to hold those assets, you will ‘own’ climate change. You will be accountable for its impacts, and you will be putting your beneficiaries at serious financial risk.