Fossil fuel divestment movement hits $40 trillion in represented assets

Tuesday February 22, 2022

Movement leaders, organizers, artists held zoom celebration to share what $40 T means, look ahead to 2022

Watch + Share: Fossil Fuel Divestment Surpasses $40 trillion.

Thanks to determined organizing, over 1500 institutions globally, representing over $40 trillion in assets, have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment.

While coal, oil and gas executives deceive the public about their role in causing the climate crisis, and fossil front-groups push state-level anti-divestment legislation, the movement to demand financial institutions like pension funds and banks defund fossil fuels grows stronger.

The day after the release of the latest IPCC report, and hours before President Biden’s State of the Union, we’re coming together for a State of the Divestment Movement, giving this milestone the celebration it deserves: with art, music, and storytelling, we will center joy and community, and together envision the world we’re building beyond fossil fuels.

WHAT: $40 Trillion Fossil Fuel Divestment virtual party

WHEN & WHERE: Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 9amPT / 12pmET on Zoom

WHO: Dozens of organizations, with speakers including:

  • Amy Gray, Stand.earth (MC)

  • Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus

  • Alethea Phillips, Earth Guardians

  • Bill McKibben, Third Act

  • Rev. Abby Mohaupt, GreenFaith

  • Omar Elmawi, #StopEACOP

  • Lu Aya, Peace Poets

  • Heather Coleman, Wallace Global Fund

Partner organizations include: Stand.earth, Oil Change International, Both ENDS, IEEFA, Future Coalition, CANRAC, Fossil Free California, Operation Noah, DivestED, Mindful Money, 350 CO, 350 NJ/Rockland, 350 Triangle, 350 MoCo, 350 Silicon Valley, Fossil Free Divest Harvard, Laudato Si, Earth Guardians, GreenFaith, People & Planet (UK), Third Act, Divest Oregon, ShiftAction, Stop the Money Pipeline (STMP), Fossil Free Israel, Wallace Global Fund, 350.org

QUOTE SHEET

"Thanks to tireless organizing, over 1500 institutions globally, representing over $40 trillion (with a T!) in assets, have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment. This milestone is a huge testament to people power and the power of our movements. For perspective, $40 trillion represents more than half of the world’s total GDP, could cover COVID vaccinations for every one in the world — 800 times over — or the cost of climate damages in the US from the last 5 years — 53 times over. While there’s much work ahead, we’re giving this the celebration it deserves!” said Amy Gray of Stand.earth.

"It's hard to imagine that we've reached this milestone--it's because hundreds of thousands of people around the world have joined in, finding a way to make a real difference in the climate fight on their campus, in their church, or through their pension fund,” said Bill McKibben of Third Act.

"This $40 trillion milestone is a testament to all the grassroots organizations that have worked so diligently over the years to call out the rogue fossil fuel industry. Investors are becoming more aware that fossil fuel investments are a risk to our finances as well as to our planet,” said Jane Vosburg of Fossil Free California.

"It is incredible to see the global divestment reach over 1,500 institutions representing over $40 Trillion. As the number of global divestments rises, I see investment institutions find it harder and harder to deny the truth - divestment is the socially just AND financially prudent AND climate safe choice,” said Miriam Eide of Fossil Free California. 

"The divestment movement continues to gather momentum as financial managers wake up to the urgency of the climate crisis and the certainty that climate investments will lose value as the world shifts to renewables.  Divestment appropriately stigmatizes the fossil fuel industry for its evil role in climate destruction.  350NJ-R is proud to be fighting for pension fund divestment in both NY and NJ.” said Jordan Dale of 350 New Jersey-Rockland.

"Last year divestment took off in The Netherlands, with the climate case against Shell, divestment by major pension funds and the Government's decision to stop support fossil fuel-related export activities. Now, the challenge is to make sure that this momentum keeps building. The coming years are crucial in the fight against climate change." said Danielle Hirsch of Both ENDS, Amsterdam.

"The ethical imperative for the divestment from fossil fuels movement is clearer than ever. It is profoundly wrong for investors -- and religious communities -- to profit from the destruction of the climate. Religious communities must commit to aligning their holdings with their moral values. To have integrity, the world’s asset managers and banks must divest from the fossil fuel industry and re-invest in communities, now,” said the Reverend Abby Mohaupt, GreenFaith.

"Wallace Global Fund celebrates the news that fossil fuel divestment commitments have now topped $40 trillion AUM, an unthinkable milestone that was made possible through the tireless efforts of activists from all over the world. We are at an historic inflection point: if you own fossil fuels, you own climate change.  We urge all financial institutions to immediately make Divest-Invest commitments as time is running out to be on the right side of history,” said Heather Coleman, Wallace Global Fund.

"The growth of the divestment movement from a few small college campuses in the US to $40 trillion in assets across the globe is incredible.  It’s clear that to win the climate future we need, global capital needs to leave dirty carbon behind and embrace clean energy solutions. 350MoCo and our allies are working to divest public pensions in Maryland and we won’t stop until we add our state’s assets to that $40 trillion total,” said Jeff Weisner, 350MoCo (Montgomery County MD).

"We’re thrilled to celebrate the whopping $40 trillion milestone with the global fossil fuel divestment movement! The past year has been exciting for us in Fossil Free Israel, with pledges by institutions managing over 20% of all public pensions. And we’re just getting started. Being a part of a global movement makes our demand a clear and strong one - stop investing in yesterday’s energy, for the sake of the future of each and every one of us.” said Uri Marom of Fossil Free Israel

"So far, only one Canadian pension fund has contributed to the $40 trillion milestone, and it’s past time for that to change. Canada’s largest pension funds have tens of billions of dollars invested in oil, gas, coal and pipelines. In many cases, our pension funds own fossil fuel companies and infrastructure themselves. They have an outsized role to play in decarbonizing our economy and protecting our retirement savings from the climate emergency. If they want to be taken seriously as climate leaders, Canada’s pension funds must stop gambling our savings on fossil fuels," said Patrick DeRochie of Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health.

"I remember when we got started with this movement, and reaching millions in assets under management was a goal. When I hear the gargantuan number the divestment movement has reached, I think about the volunteer meetings, the groups showing up to pension board meetings holding signs, the letters and petitions. That number represents determined students, pensioners, and taxpayers pouring hours into a social movement they believe in," said Brett Fleishman of 350.org.

"This $40 trillion milestone is inspiring to all of us campaigning for a fossil-free future in Oregon and a reminder that the road to divestment is already well-traveled by good company. The climate crisis is creating momentous challenges for Oregonians, but we are not in this alone. Every fund, account, and endowment matters!” said Andrew Bogrand of Divest Oregon: Reinvest for a Fossil-Free Future.

"This incredible milestone of $40 trillion divested from fossil fuels shows the power communities have when they commit to living out their values and divesting from fossil fuels. We're thrilled that faith-based institutions are leading the way, representing nearly one-third of all commitments, and that Pope Francis has urged all Catholic institutions to divest. Together, we're uniting to care for the most vulnerable among us, and we urge all people of faith to join us." said Tomás Insua, Executive Director of Laudato Si' Movement.

"At Earth Guardians our youth know that if fossil fuels don't stay in the ground, we undoubtedly will remain on a run-away train of climate chaos. For this reason we are honored to be an active member of the STMP Coalition, co-visionary behind the youth pledge, Not My Dirty Money, and partnered with other organizations who are doing direct bank and insurance divestment work. At EG we believe divestment is one of the most important strategic efforts any climate activist can engage in." Kellie Berns, International Program Director, Earth Guardians.

"After a decade of tireless organizing by students, faculty, staff, community members, and alumni, Harvard finally divested its $42 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry last September. This climate victory sparked incredible momentum for the divestment movement globally: Many more institutions representing billions of dollars in assets soon followed. Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard is proud to stand in solidarity with the countless other organizers who made this momentous $40 trillion milestone possible,” said Sofia Andrade of Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard.

"Divesting from fossil fuels is a powerful way to undermine the power and legitimacy of the fossil fuel sector and raise the costs of its capital. This fossil free campaign has been the energising force to mobilise citizens from around the globe, including Aotearoa New Zealand, to deny their funding to fossil fuel companies. While we celebrate this milestone, there is urgency for further action. We are committed to collaborative action locally and globally to shift investment away from fossil fuels and into clean energy,” commented Barry Coates of Mindful Money.

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