Worldwide Divestment Update

by William MacCallum, ECA member

Today gofossilfree.org lists 503 organizations worldwide that have divested from fossil fuels. This means there are now over 3.4 trillion American dollars pledged not to be invested in the industry. Studies have suggested the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which began in the US, has been faster than any previous divestment movement such as tobacco and apartheid.

Some of the highest profile international organizations that have fully divested are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the World Council of Churches and the British Medical Association. The former is particularly notable as the Rockefeller family amassed their fortune from oil starting in the late 19th century.

Bill McKibben of 350.org says “The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves – and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further’.”

In Australia literally dozens of pension funds have fully divested now. Here in Canada the Canadian Medical Association, the United Church of Canada and many other groups and philanthropic organizations such as catherinedonnellyfoundation.org announced in 2015 they would be fully divesting. At the annual general meeting of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (AMPA) in March there will be a motions put to the floor asking that OSSTF divest its own Internal Investment Fund from fossil fuels and that the OSSTF pressure the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to divest from fossil fuels by creating a policy that it divest.

Pension plans are by definition long-term money management and the fossil fuel industry is no longer a good long-term investment. It’s time to divest.

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