Over $2.6 trillion in assets pledged to fossil divestment in global movement toward cleaner energy

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 3 minutes
22 September 2015

NEW YORK: The global movement to divest assets from fossil fuels has reached US$2.6 trillion according to finance, faith and environmental leaders gathered at an event during Climate Week NYC today.

Leaders at the Divest Invest event in Manhattan hailed a number of major new commitments to divest from fossil fuels as well as their new investments in clean energy alternatives.

Doubling the trillion dollar threshold, the new US$2.6 trillion figure from 430 institutions and 2,000 individuals reflects the fast-growing worldwide movement to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Commenting on the 50-fold increase in divesting assets, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretrary, UNFCC says it "shows real strength of the momentum for change", because "only a significant shift of capital into clean and efficient energy will put us on a pathway to a resilient future".

The UN climate chief said: "Capital must keep pace with the scientifically-defined timeline to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, by peaking GHG emissions in the next decade and reaching carbon neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of century", but despite the fact the "biggest capital shift in history will be long and complex, your [divestment] is showing it's well on the way and it's unstoppable."

Speakers from finance, faith, health, environmental, philanthropic, municipal, education, entertainment, climate justice, the United Nations and several other sectors committed to divest at the event, including actor and climate action advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.

Reiterating the fourishing clean tech markets on the other side of the divestment coin, Tom Van Dyck, Managing Director, Socially Responsible Investment for the Royal Bank of Canada pointed out that solar and LED lighting technology prices have dropped 80% in eight years and wind is at grid parity, as well as the fact the "holy grail" of battery storage has dipped significantly in price. He concluded: "We're the first generation to find out what carbon risk is about and the last that can do anything about it." 

Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, Green Faith talked of the fast-growing divestment from Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities, as well as the surge in action seen from Catholics following Pope Francis' public climate action commitments. 

Also representing a huge US religious community, Reverand Yearwood Jnr., President and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus incited great applause when he stated: "Climate change is a civil rights issue. In the 20th Century our parents fought for equality, but in the 21st Century we are not only fighting for equality but for existence. We must transform from from fossil fuels to clean energy." 

Concluding the keynotes, May Boeve, Executive Director of 350 said: "These numbers mean a lot of things, but as world leaders meet in Paris at the end of the year, we need governments to divest too." 

Find out more about Divest Invest here and see the 100+ climate events happening across the city at ClimateWeekNYC.org.


#CWNYC 2015

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Climate Week NYC 2015 is supported by BT Group, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SkyPower, SolarCity, CBRE Group, and Bank of the West - BNP Paribas; and the We Mean Business coalition members: BSR, The B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and WBCSD.

ClimateWeekNYC.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

by Clare Saxon Ghauri

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