23 September 2015, News Wires – A push by climate-change activists to pressure large entities to divest from fossil fuels has gained steam over the last year, as investment managers have now pledged to redirect some $2.6 trillion dollars from their portfolios, according to a report.
Arabella Advisors, a consultancy for philanthropists, found that 436 institutions and 2040 individuals across 43 countries have agreed to pull investments in stocks of fossil fuel companies.
That compares to a survey from last September, which found 181 institutions and 656 individuals, representing around $50 billion in assets, had committed to divest.
Large investors like pension funds, faith-based groups, university endowments and private-sector groups make up the bulk of the divestment pledges, Arabella said.
The report comes as world leaders and industry executives gather in New York City for Climate Week and the United Nations general assembly. It also precedes the crucial December summit in Paris when more than 190 nations will work on a major global carbon-emissions pact.
Researchers have said that more than $100 trillion in oil, gas and coal reserves should remain unproduced if the world is to stave off a climate crisis brought on by rising global temperatures – a warning that some investors see as a threat to fossil-fuel companies.
Meanwhile, mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio threw his support behind the divestment movement, promising to divest on behalf of himself and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which supports conservation projects around the world.
“Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants,” DiCaprio said in a statement.
“We must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, the main driver of this global problem.”
In April, a group of Anglican bishops urged the Church to divest from fossil fuel companies to make a moral stand against climate change.
The divestment push echoes the anti-apartheid movement on college campuses in the 1980s, where students agitated for campuses to pull South African investments from endowment portfolios.
Educational institutions with $130 billion in assets have pledged to divest in the current drive, including the University of California, Georgetown, and Oxford, Arabella said.
In August, the Independent Petroleum Association of America put out a report (pdf) showing that university endowments would grow more slowly if they divested from fossil fuels.
The report noted that Harvard University, with its $36 billion endowment, would lose $107 million a year if it divested.
Harvard has so far resisted pressure to divest.
“Divestment is a bad policy based on a bad premise,” IPAA Senior Vice President Jeff Eshelman said in statement earlier this month.