The divestment effort—the now-global movement that pressures institutions to drop their investments in fossil fuels—continues to grow at a breakneck pace. A new report from Arabella Advisors, a philanthropic advisory group, tallies the total assets committed to fossil fuel divestment worldwide at $2.6 trillion. That's a fairly astonishing figure, considering that at this time last year, that figure was a mere fraction of that.
"One year ago today we announced that the total was $52 billion, and committed to tripling that figure," said Ellen Dorsey, the executive director of Wallace Global Fund, who moderated the Divest/Invest announcement in Midtown NYC this morning. "In the past year alone, that means that we've seen a 50 fold increase in the commitment to divest from fossil fuels."
The commitments come from 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals across 43 nations, which reflects the truly global nature of the divestment movement. Norway's Sovereign Fund, for instance, the largest in the world, had committed to dumping its coal assets earlier this year.
Another notable commitment was announced today, too: Leonardo DiCaprio, who has for years lent his celebrity to the climate movement, pledged to divest all of his assets from fossil fuels. DiCaprio was in attendance, and, preferring not to take the stage, offered a brief thumbs up as the announcement was made.
A number of major wealth managers were on hand as well. Justin Rockefeller emphasized his continued support for divestment—the Rockefeller Foundation, built on wealth accumulated from one of the largest oil companies in history, announced it was ditching its fossil fuel assets last year—and other speakers included civil rights, business, and faith leaders. The Reverend Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, noted that religious groups had divested $24 billion from fossil fuels thus far, too.
"The divestment movement is on fire, and Wall Street is beginning to feel the heat," said Jamie Henn, a co-founder of 350.org, the group that has helped organize the divestment drive.
It's often said that the divestment movement won't be able to put a serious dent in the fossil fuel industry's bottom line, but that outlook seems to be changing—at the very least, the increasingly massive commitment total (that's $2.6 trillion, once again) demonstrates in clear terms the moral gravity of fossil fuel investment.
It all signals remarkable progress for a push that began as a student's movement just a few years ago, and has picked up a string of large, often surprising victories since. One such student leader was on hand, Alden Phinney, from Fossil Free UC.
"I invite you to stand with students," he said, in his brief, impassioned speech, "or to get out of the way."