Trusts and Foundations Join Snowballing Divestment Movement
15 July 2015 at 11:12 am
One hundred international trusts, foundations and family offices worth over $5 billion have signed the global Divest Invest Philanthropy pledge, committing to divest themselves of fossil fuels and invest in the low carbon economy.
The 100th signatory has been described as a significant milestone for the campaign, which aims to achieve 200 signatories by COP 21 in Paris in December.
COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
Recent Divest Invest signatories join the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund in supporting the divestment movement, along with educational institutions, health and pension funds and religious endowments divesting worldwide.
Divest Invest Philanthropy says it aims to use the weight of the philanthropic community’s support for Divest Invest to send a powerful signal to policymakers at the COP 21 meetings, to turn off the flow of capital into the fossil-fuel industry and to increase knowledge and understanding amongst the philanthropic and wider investment community of the emerging investment opportunities in clean energy and renewables.
The initiative originated in the US, where it built on the college campus movement, which has seen institutions including Stanford and the University of Glasgow divest of their assets in fossil fuels.
“As the fossil fuel divestment movement explodes across universities, pension funds, hospitals and cities, the philanthropic sector has stepped up in an unprecedented way and with global collaboration, representing the largest number of institutions committed to date,” according to Divest Invest organisers.
“Together, we are holding fossil fuel industries accountable for their obstruction of climate policy solutions, investing for public good and financial performance, and accelerating the growth of a sustainable and equitable economy.”
“This is a significant milestone…Inaction on this issue poses grave risks to trusts, foundations and family offices. These include the risk that fossil fuel investments become stranded due to policy change and/or the increasing competitiveness of alternative energy sources and the reputational risk posed by continued investment in companies that are accelerating climate change, the consequences of which will disproportionately affect the poor,” Mark Sainsbury, Chairman of the Mark Leonard Trust and member of Europeans for Divest Invest Philanthropy, said.
“We would urge all trustees to consider these risks seriously and urgently.”
Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund said Divest Invest was becoming an increasingly global initiative.
“We have Trusts and Foundations from across the US, Australia, New Zealand and a number of African countries. This is a powerful signal to hasten the end of the fossil fuel era and accelerate humanity’s shared goal of low carbon energy for all.
“It’s a decision that none of us have taken lightly or naively. We can no longer profit from an industry that is driving the problems we are trying to solve with our charitable donations. It simply does not make sense. We are calling on all trusts, foundations and family offices to show leadership and join this global initiative.”
Divest Invest Philanthropy said it would continue to increase the number of signatories in the lead up to negotiations in Paris.