Since its launch by students as a moral call to climate action in 2011, the fossil fuel divestment campaign has mobilized nearly 1,000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets to commit to divest from fossil fuels – an increase of 11,900 percent in four years. In 2018, Arabella published a report highlighting the main drivers of this movement’s growth and its impact.
The primary drivers of this recent growth are insurers, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds, followed by mission-driven institutions. Notably, the convergence of divestment and shareholder engagement as a joint strategy to curb fossil fuels is an important new development. The growing success of this movement has accelerated because of three intersecting imperatives to divest: 1) the ethical case, 2) the financial case, and 3) the fiduciary case. Fossil fuel companies are now listing divestment as a material risk factor.
Methodologically, we considered any public commitment to divest from top fossil fuel companies, including those from institutions that chose to divest from specific fossil fuel companies rather than all. We counted neither institutions that solely opted to freeze future investments, nor those that passed a pro-divestment resolution without implementation. We obtained data on assets from various sources outlined in the report.