Environmental Leaders Challenge Institutions to Divest from Fossil Fuels Ahead of Paris Summit

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Clémence Dubois, +33642713175, clemence@350.org

Hoda Baraka, +201001 840990, hoda@350.org

Melanie Mattauch,  +49 151 5812 0184, melanie@350.org

Environmental Leaders Challenge Institutions to Divest from Fossil Fuels Ahead of Paris Summit

WASHINGTON - Earlier today, divestment leaders launched the “Divest for Paris” challenge at the Paris Divestment Conference, a day-long gathering co-hosted by 350.org and the European Green Party.[1] The summit features high-profile speakers such as Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, Pascal Canfin, from the Commission on Climate Finance and former French Development Minister, representatives from the World Council of Churches, the Carbon Tracker Initiative, and many more.

The divestment movement is challenging institutions, individuals and governments to show climate leadership and align their investments with their values by divesting from fossil fuels ahead of the COP21 Climate Summit in Paris.[2] An avalanche of public commitments to divest from fossil fuels would build momentum and send a powerful signal that the world is rapidly and irreversibly moving away from fossil fuels.

"If you say you want action in Paris, then you have a responsibility to divest from fossil fuels," said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. "By shifting resources from the dirty energy of the past to the 100% renewable energy of the future, institutions can model the type of action we need from countries at COP21. With our climate in crisis, divestment is a moral necessity."

The divestment movement enjoys support from a broad range of institutions including the United Nations, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon and UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres. Former EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard recently said divesting from coal, oil and gas would make ‘a very important contribution’ to the Paris negotiations.[3]

Worldwide the divestment movement continues to grow with daily commitments being announced.[4] In Europe an increasing number of institutions are joining the call to divest from fossil fuels. “The European Parliament has formed a cross-party group working on the carbon bubble and divestment while the European Central Bank is looking into the risks of a carbon bubble. Unfortunately, however, the European Commission seems to be dragging its feet. This divestment conference is therefore also a call to them: don't be behind the curve. There is no future for fossil fuels – or there is no future," says Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of Parliament and Co-Chair of the European Green Party.

Though the divestment movement is nascent in France, it has already gathered a number of successful commitments. Over the last months, the council of the city of Paris, and assemblies of the Régions Ile de France and Rhône Alpes (France’s two main regions/districts) as well as the Département of Gironde (regions) have adopted motions backing fossil fuel divestment. Yannick Jadot, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens said: “Citizens, employees, municipalities, reasonable politicians, all of society can take action to ensure our money doesn’t destroy the climate. This is a real revolution in the fight against climate change, where finance and ecology finally meet.”

Emphasising the power of divestment as a democratic necessity, Nicolas Haeringer, 350.org divestment organizer in France said: “French institutions, such as the Caisse des Dépôts - France’s most important public investor - should set the example and listen to local authorities. Divesting from fossil fuel helps address the climate crisis, but is also a democratic necessity: if investments have an impact on our future, then investors should listen to the demands of citizens and their representatives.”

The Paris Divestment Summit precedes a gathering in New York City on September 21, the anniversary of the People’s Climate March, during which movement leaders will unveil a report from financial research firm Arabella Advisors, numerically tracking the rapid growth of the fossil fuel divestment movement since its inception in 2012, and revealing up-to-date figures on total funds divested from fossil fuels.

[1] Further details on the Paris Divestment Summit can be found here: europeangreens.eu/divestconference

[2] Further details on the Divest for Paris challenge available here: gofossilfree.org/paris/

[3] The Guardian: Former EU climate chief Hedegaard backs fossil fuel divestment, 14 August 2015

[4] Global list of divestment endorsements

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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