Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Climate campaigners have been calling for years on companies and shareholders to divest from fossil fuels for the good of the planet, and a new "sell" rating from Goldman Sachs for oil and gas giant Exxon confirms divestment makes good financial sense for investers as well. (Photo: Friends of the Earth Scotland/Flickr/cc)

Divestment Fever Spreads as 'Eco Radicals at Goldman Sachs' Downgrade Exxon Stock to 'Sell' Status

"The best reason to divest fossil fuel stock is that you'd like to help preserve a livable planet. Another reason is so that you won't lose your money."

Julia Conley

Three days after CNBC host Jim Cramer pronounced fossil fuel investments as being "in the death knell phase," Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded its stock assessment for ExxonMobil, advising investors to sell their shares of the oil and gas giant.

The Wall Street firm changed its "neutral" rating to "sell" following its fourth quarter earnings reports which showed Exxon's earnings falling from $6 billion in 2018 to $5.6 billion last year.

The firm found no "compelling case" for holding on to Exxon's stocks, according to CNBC, and advised investors that "more compelling returns opportunities exist both among the global majors and global large cap stocks outside of energy."

As author and co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted, Goldman Sachs' decision confirms that aside from helping to "preserve a livable planet," another reason to divest fossil fuel stocks is "so that you won't lose your money."

Goldman Sachs predicted that Exxon will meet just half of its targeted returns by 2025.

The firm's prediction is just the latest indication that the financial sector and other profit-driven entities are beginning to see fossil fuels as an impractical investment.

"A reminder that capital often doesn't walk, it runs."
—Nathan Lemphers, Smart Prosperity Institute
As Common Dreams reported last November, analysts at Toronto-based firm Corporate Knights found that investing in fossil fuels cost pension funds in California and Colorado cost retirees $19 billion collectively over a decade.

A number of cities have divested from Wells Fargo for its funding of fossil fuel projects, and as Common Dreams reported Friday, Cramer announced on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that he is "done" with fossil fuel investments, suggesting oil, gas, and coal have become relics of the past.

"The world's changed," Cramer said. "New money managers want to appease younger people who believe that you can't ever make a fossil fuel company sustainable... You can tell that the world's turned on them, and it's actually kind of happening very quickly."

Mary Sweeters, outreach manager for Insure Our Future, a campaign calling on insurance companies to divest from fossil fuels, was among those who noted Cramer's comments and Goldman Sachs' analysis on Monday.

Environmental policy researcher Nathan Lemphers jokingly referred to Goldman Sachs analysts running from Exxon stocks as "eco-radicals" as he noted on Twitter that other investment banks appear to be following suit.

"It's time for a strategy that's better for the climate and shareholders alike," wrote Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church of England, which voted nearly two years ago to divest from fossil fuels by 2023.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Patient Group Targets Pair of Democrats for 'Selling Us Out to Drug Companies'

"It makes me so angry that members of Congress are choosing Big Pharma over patients. It's unforgivable."

Jake Johnson ·

Judge Blocks Biden From Continuing 'Inhumane' Trump Policy to Deport Families

"This is not the end of the battle against this practice," said one rights group, "but it is a major step to ensure that the U.S. welcomes these asylum-seeking families—as we should."

Jessica Corbett ·

400+ Economists Press Congress to Permanently Expand Child Tax Credit

Such an expansion would "dramatically reduce childhood poverty in the United States," they said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Biden Admin. Sued for Letting Big Oil Harass 'Imperiled' Polar Bears

"We're hopeful the court will overturn this dangerous rule that puts polar bears in the crosshairs."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Cruel and Callous': Biden Slammed for Resuming Deportations to Battered Haiti

"Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a 'friend' of Haiti. A 'friend' does not continuously inflict pain on another friend," said Guerline Jozef of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo