Fossil fuel divestment still only at ‘symbolic’ level

(EurActiv, 2 Sep 2015) Almost 400 institutions have signed up to the global fossil fuel divestment campaign since 2012, but an NGO report has warned that their commitments are not enough to make a real difference. Journal de l'Environnement reports.

"Every week we see new withdrawals of investments in oil, coal and gas," Bill McKibben told a press conference in Paris on Tuesday (1 September). The American environmentalist is the co-founder of website , the organisation behind the Go Fossil Free campaign.

The California Academy of Sciences, the Canadian Medical Association and even the Australian city of Newcastle, home to the world's largest coal port, have all committed to divest their holdings in fossil-fuel companies.

>> Read: Investors demand energy giants quit 'anti-climate' EU lobby groups

These commitments may be growing, but they are still only at symbolic levels, the French Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD) warned on Monday 31 August. From 4 September, any organisation with shares in any of the companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list will be excluded from the French NGO's socially responsible Ethique et Partage mutual fund. Carbon Underground 200 is a list of the world's 100 biggest oil and gas companies and the 100 biggest coal companies.

Geneviève Guenard, CCFD's administrative and financial director, recognised that "the fund is small and in reality the divestment only concerns one company". But the decision is a symbolic one for the organisation, which has already ended all investments linked to arms, pornography and tobacco.

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EurActiv, 2 Sep 2015: Fossil fuel divestment still only at ‘symbolic’ level