A New Divestment Focus on Campus and business: They want to abandon fossil fuels

Fossil fuels have become the focus of those who would change the world through the power of investing.

A student movement has gathered momentum at more than 300 campuses over the last year. Members have encouraged college and university endowments to divest themselves of their holdings of companies in the fossil fuel business to avoid profiting from the release of carbon associated with the risk of global warming.

For example, In July, Harvard’s endowment, the nation’s largest at $31 billion, hired the leader of that research initiative, Jameela Pedicini, as vice president for sustainable investing, becoming only the second top college after Stanford to have full-time endowment employees devoted to such issues.

A few small colleges have chosen to divest themselves of their fossil fuel stocks. Unity College in Maine, which specializes in environmental science and has a small $14.5 million endowment, this spring, completed a move to a lineup of 33 exchange-traded sector funds that minimize exposure to fossil fuel stocks.

On the other hand, Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, are abandoning fossil fuels too.  The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments — as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives.

In Europe, following on from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation divesting their dosh from fossil fuel, there were further significant announcements from institutional investors.

Two of the largest asset managers and pension funds in this continent, have connected with the UN Environment Programme to “substantially reduce the carbon footprint of $100bn of institutional investment worldwide”.

And there was more. Commodity traders Cargill, perhaps the very epitome of the type of industry that greens hate, announced that it would make its palm oil supply chains in Malaysia and Indonesia fully sustainable.