Written by Deborah McNamara 

Since the global divestment movement launched just ten years ago at Swarthmore College, over 12 trillion dollars have been moved away from fossil fuel investments, representing one of the most impactful forces in the climate movement today. There are now thousands of divestment campaigns underway across the globe, calling on individuals, educational and religious institutions, governments, foundations, endowments, and other institutions that serve the public good to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in solutions to climate change. Investors, organizations, banks and governments from all over the planet have pledged to divest with momentum building daily. 

Over 1,110 institutions have now committed to policies black-listing some combination of coal, oil, and gas investments. These include sovereign wealth funds, banks, global asset managers and insurance companies, cities, pension funds, health care organizations, universities, faith groups, foundations, and the entire country of Ireland.

In Colorado this past spring, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the City of Denver had begun divesting its 6 billion dollar General Funds portfolio from fossil fuel investments, joining over 43 US cities that have committed to some form of divestment from fossil fuels. 

The University of California also recently announced divestment of its 83 billion dollar pension and endowment funds, for “purely financial reasons.” And, there are other major global milestones pointing to change. In 2018, the World Bank announced the end of its lending to fossil fuel projects. In 2019, 130 banks worth 47 trillion dollars – representing a third of the global industry – adopted new UN-backed climate policies to shift their loan books away from fossil fuels. Also this past fall, Europe’s Investment Bank, the world’s largest international public lending institution, is phasing out lending to oil and gas projects by the end of 2021 – representing a major shift of public finance away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy projects.

Locally, 350 Colorado is focused on calling on Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), which manages the pensions of half a million current and former state employees, to divest from fossil fuels via the Fossil Free PERA Campaign. In 2019, the campaign commissioned a study by Corporate Knights, which found that PERA would have generated an estimated additional $1.77 billion in value had the fund divested its fossil fuel stocks ten years ago. Stay tuned for forthcoming legislation this session that will call on PERA to divest from fossil fuels. 

Also in 2020, campaigns across the globe are unifying to “Stop the Money Pipeline,” demanding that banks, asset managers, and insurance companies stop funding, insuring, and investing in climate destruction, and 350 Colorado is one of the organizations leading that charge. Thanks to all who have helped to get us this far – and please join us in taking action to continue catalyzing change this year! 

Here’s how you can get involved and take action now: