divestment-commitments-doubleBefore the warm glow of empowerment from this weekend’s People’s Climate Mobilisation has even worn off, there’s some incredible news to share with you on the divestment campaign front.

President Al Gore is presenting over 800 fossil fuel divestment commitments by institutions and individuals in a speech to heads of state at the UN Climate Summit in New York today.

Among them, the Church of Sweden is announcing that it has completed its divestment process by ridding itself of its remaining holdings in gas companies. Its assets of $691,292,490 are now completely fossil free. And ,whilst the Church of Sweden was one of the first pioneering institutions to take up divestment from coal and oil, they are no longer alone.

The number of institutions pledging to divest from fossil fuels has more than doubled from 74 to 181 commitments since the beginning of the year according to new research being presented at the UN Climate Summit in New York Today. More than doubled in under a year!

Just take a minute to let that number sink in. Reflect on the rapid pace at which our grassroots movement is convincing major, mainstream institutions to heed our calls for divestment – be they faith-based institutions, universities, local governments, banks, foundations or even major fossil fuel heirs like the Rockerfeller Brothers Fund.  We are picking up pace and we’re not stopping.

Staggeringly, the combined asset size of the 837 institutions and individuals committing to divest today amounts to more than $50 billion, with institutions and governments making up 98% of the total asset size.

Gunnela Hahn, Head of Responsible Investment at the Church of Sweden says,

“As a responsible investor we look upon ourselves as owners of the companies we invest in. We do not want to own, and thereby fund, the extraction of fossil fuels. Instead we want to own and fund companies that stand for solutions. Furthermore we see a financial risk in owning fossil fuel companies. Their value consists to a large extent of fossil fuel reserves that risk losing in value, since they cannot be extracted if we are to have a liveable planet.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu launched a call for divestment by video during a press conference in New York where the achievements of the divestment movement to date were presented. In addition, 80 theological and religious leaders have released a statement in support of fossil fuel divestment.

The divestment commitments come from a diverse range of institutions such as universities, faith organisations, foundations, medical institutions and local governments. They include the British Medical Association, the World Council of Churches, Stanford University and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“More and more investors are pulling their money out of climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies. This growing movement won’t bankrupt them financially but it can remove their social licence to operate and take away their political power,” says Tim Ratcliffe, Europe Divestment Coordinator at 350.org.

This fossil fuel divestment movement was initiated by students at a handful of US colleges in 2011. Since then it has rapidly spread exponentially to over 500 campaigns globally.   And it looks like it won’t be slowing down anytime soon.