Fossil fuel asset exposure poses clear risk to investment portfolios

September 25th, 2015 by European Climate Foundation

German coal fired power station with steam coming from the cooling towers (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

German coal fired power station with steam coming from the cooling towers (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

According to the Arabella Advisors report published on 22 September 2015, the movement to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy and climate solutions has grown 50-fold in the last year to reach $2.6 trillion.

More than 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals have pledged to divest from fossil fuel investments.

Recent pledges have come from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Norway Pension Fund, the Canadian Medical Association, the World Council of Churches, and the University of California system.

These commitments include governments and investors from 43 countries and multiple sectors, including pension funds, health, education, philanthropy, faith, entertainment, climate justice and municipalities.

Recent financial analyses from HSBC, Citigroup, Mercer, Bank of England and the International Energy Agency indicate a significant, quantifiable risk to portfolios exposed to fossil fuel assets.

Thomas Van Dyck, Managing Director-Financial Advisor of SRI Wealth Management Group, said “the Arabella Advisors Report shows that more and more investors are reducing their carbon risk today and diversifying their portfolios with the goal to harness the upside in the sustainable clean growth industries of the future.”

“That underscores what I see every day as a financial advisor–that the demand for fossil-free investment products is increasing.”

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said in a video statement during the launch of the Arabella Advisors report that “investing at scale in clean, efficient power offers one of the clearest, no regret choices ever presented to human progress.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (click image to expand)

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (click image to expand)

The United Nations climate chief has been advocating for the shift of investment flows from fossil fuels to climate solutions to meet the $1-trillion-a-year need for clean energy investment–and to create momentum ahead of the upcoming international climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015.

“This shift in investment flows is especially critical for underserved communities and people living in poverty, who are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus.

“Climate change hits the poor first and worst. It is a racial and economic justice issue that must be addressed with solutions like the Divest-Invest movement to empower these communities, eliminate health disparities and drive the shift to a clean energy economy.”

May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, said “this movement has struck a chord with people across the world who care about climate change, and convinced some of the largest and most influential institutions in the world to begin pulling their money out of climate destruction.”

“That is sending a clear message to world leaders as they head into Paris: It’s time for them to follow suit, and divest our governments from fossil fuel companies too,” she said.

Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, said “Pope Francis in his encyclical stated that the earth is a gift from God and that we are responsible for protecting it.”

“The pace of fossil fuel divestment within faith communities worldwide, combined with the growing commitment to investing in clean energy, particularly for the world’s poor, show that the world’s spiritual and moral leaders grasp the urgency of the climate crisis and are ready to act,” he said.

Divestment strategies vary among participants in the movement. Some have divested from all fossil fuel companies both large and small; others are beginning with coal and/or tar sands.

The Arabella Advisors report provides details on commitments made to date.

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