As many of you know, Aperio Group (an investment management and research firm) published a report back in 2012 titled Do the Investment Math: Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio. That report has been a foundational piece of the financial side of the divestment discourse; as it was one of the first to show, clearly and diligently, that fossil fuel divestment was a low risk move and over long periods of time could prove to enhance returns.

Well they’ve done it again. Aperio Group has just published a new report, BUILDING A CARBON-FREE EQUITY PORTFOLIO. In their new paper they look at a long timeline, from 1988 to 2013, and large sections of the market – with an emphasis on the US, Canadian, and Australian markets. Their conclusion: divestment presents low risk and slightly better returns.

The report begins, “When the idea of fossil fuel screening is raised, the first thing an endowment committee, foundation board or private investor wants to know is whether screening will impose a penalty. While there is no definitive answer, the often-presumed assumption of a return penalty is not consistently borne out by research.”

After a few clear explanations of methodology, terminology, and charted results, Aperio is able to answer the institutional investors (endowments and pensions) that are worried about losing money when they divest.

I would also like to point out the humble and honest tenor found throughout the report. For example, “The hypothetical returns for Tracking Portfolios should in no way be construed to imply that divestment leads to better performance. It shows only that over the time periods analyzed, this version of divestment just happened to play out that way.” It’s funny, you don’t get that same humility in the counter report published by the American Petroleum Institute.

Anyway, enjoy the report. I hope this helps your campaign build a more factual based conversation with the trustees.