Europeans for Divest Invest, a consortium of trusts, foundations, and family offices leading the Divest-Invest Philanthropy movement in Europe, has announced that over a hundred philanthropic institutions with more than $5 billion in combined assets under management have pledged to divest themselves of their investments in the fossil fuel industry.
The global Divest – Invest movement aims to secure divestment pledges from two hundred philanthropic organizations by December, when the United Nations holds its 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), with the goal of slowing the flow of capital to the fossil fuel industry and increasing knowledge among philanthropic and other investors of emerging investment opportunities in clean energy and renewables. As of September 2014, total assets under management by the hundreds of individuals, local governments, foundations, and educational, faith-based, and healthcare organizations that had committed to divestment topped $50 billion.
The latest European signatories include the Roddick Foundation, the Serve All Trust, the Both ENDS Foundation, the Orp Foundation, and a number of trusts established by members of the Sainsbury family, including the Ashden Trust, the JJ Charitable Trust, the Mark Leonard Trust, the Tedworth Charitable Trust, and the Woodward Charitable Trust.
"This is a significant milestone and we're encouraged to see the Divest – Invest movement gathering momentum across Europe," said Mark Sainsbury, chair of the Mark Leonard Trust and a member of Europeans for Divest Invest. "Inaction on this issue poses grave risks to trusts, foundations, and family offices. These include the risk that fossil fuel investments become stranded due to policy change and/or the increasing competitiveness of alternative energy sources and the reputational risk posed by continued investment in companies that are accelerating climate change, the consequences of which will disproportionately affect the poor. We would urge all trustees to consider these risks seriously and urgently."