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The Paris climate agreement reached last year "bolstered the economic arguments underpinning divestment," the new report says. (Photo: Joe Brusky/flickr/cc)

An 'Undeniable Success': Divestment From Fossil Fuels Passes $5 Trillion

The value of funds making the commitment has doubled in size since September 2015

Andrea Germanos

Marking the divestment movement's "undeniable success," a new report shows the value of funds controlled by individuals and institutions who have vowed to dump their fossil fuels assets now surpasses $5 trillion. co-founder Bill McKibben said the "news is mammoth."

The report (pdf) by Arabella Advisors for the Divest-Invest Network shows that the value of global funds making the commitment—now at about $5.2 trillion—has doubled in size since September 2015, and comes from 688 institutions and over 58,000 individuals spanning 76 countries.

It comes exactly one year after the adoption of the landmark Paris climate accord, and that agreement, the report says, "bolstered the economic arguments underpinning divestment, validating it as a key tool for achieving the agreements goals."

Pointing to the election of climate science-denier Donald Trump, the report adds: "Any setback to official U.S. climate policy elevates the importance of divestment as an organizing and financial tool to speed the clean energy transition. Absent effective federal policy to curb emissions, advocates and investors can use their assets and their voice to continue pushing the energy sector beyond fossil fuels."

Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the findings, stating that "it's clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial, and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play."

May Boeve, executive director, declared: "In the face of intensifying climate impacts, and regressive and anti-climate governments like the Trump administration, it's more critical than ever that our institutions—especially at the local level—step up to break free from fossil fuel companies."

The growing calls to divest, already underscored by the threats of a "carbon bubble," come as what may likely be the hottest year on record draws to a close.

The new report also comes as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City tells (pdf) climate campaigners it too has joined other science and natural history museums in cutting ties with the polluting industry. "We hope we can achieve our collective goal of global sustainability while maximizing the resources each of our institutions brings to bear on this vital issue," Daniel Stoddard, the museum's chief investment officer, wrote.

Beka Economopoulos of The Natural History Museum, a mobile and pop-up museum calling for climate action, said she hopes the development "encourages other science museums to stand up for science and cut ties to fossil fuels.”

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