The divestment movement gathered speed this week, as the day before the UN Climate Summit in New York, Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced it would divest from fossil fuel investments.
The Rockefeller fortune which was founded in oil is worth $860million, 7% of which is invested in fossil fuels.
They are the latest group to join Divest Invest Philanthropy – a coalition of more than 800 organisations, cities, educational institutions, religious groups and individuals divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean energy.
The group has declared a total divestment of $50 billion from fossil fuel assets including tar sands investments over the next five years.
According to a new report by Divest Invest:
As of September 19, 2014, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels. These institutions and individuals come from a diverse range of sectors and backgrounds, including universities, faith-based organizations, philanthropies, health-care providers, local governments, and NGOs.
Since January 2014, the number of commitments by campuses, churches, cities, states, hospitals, pension funds, and other institutions—both in the United States and abroad—have more than doubled, from 74 to 180.
This announcement has been the latest in the growing trend of the divestment and Fossil Free movement.
Other notable organisations going fossil free include the World Council of Churches, the British Medical Association, Stanford University and the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation.
Google has also announced that it will not renew its membership with the the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) a right-wing lobbying network citing its concern that the network is “lying” about climate change. The internet mogul’s chairman Eric Schmidt said that Google’s decision to fund Alec was a “mistake.”
A symbolic shift?
It’s been a whirlwind week for the climate movement. The Carbon Tracker Initiative released its report on Friday declaring coal was on its way out; 400, 000 took to the streets of New York to demand climate action from world leaders, joined by half a million around the world; and inside the halls of the UN headquarters in New York, Heads of State from over 20 countries met to talk about climate change for the first time in nearly five years.
And now major businesses that made their fortune from oil are divesting from fossil fuels.
Divestment represents a financial and political symbol for the climate movement: a redistribution of financial investments from dirty energy into renewables and a political wedge to galvanise the lack of political will into action.
The signal is clear, fossil fuels are on their way out as the world demands investment in clean energy and a low carbon future.