Divestment, or ethical investment

Businessman is pointing on the notebook screen. Business ethics concept.

Ethical funds were originally funds that practice sectoral exclusions, according to various criteria defined in their prospectus. This concept has been refined over time, and may also refer to sharing funds and solidarity funds, or more specifically SRI funds. Engaged in the fight against global warming, the NGO Go Fossil Free has made the divestment of fossil fuels its hobbyhorse. Thus, it incites investors to exclude from their portfolio companies involved in fossil fuels : coal is mainly concerned, followed by oil and gas. This movement stems from a small university campus in suburban Philadelphia, convinced by some student activists to withdraw its investments from fossil fuels. Other universities have followed these recommendations, such as Oxford or London, and the movement has spread worldwide, to all sectors, even to sectors not traditonally associated with divestment (foundations, churches, newspapers, pension funds, private companies…). This momentum has resulted in international divestment movement of the money from the mining, oil and gas sectors. Ethics seems to have taken an important place in investors’ choices, conscious of the benefits of their investments. Turning towards the financing of renewable energy, they can promote a model of sustainable economic development. But while it may be easy to divest, these new investments should be reallocated effectively in clean energy, which is not always the case. According to an Arabella Advisors’ study, commitments to divest fossil fuels and climate reinvest in energy accounted for 785 billion dollars of total assets in 2015, three times less than the only divestment from fossil energy (2,600 billion). Social and environmental factors are increasingly taken into account by investors, whether retail or institutional. Moreover, mission-driven organizations make a strong moral case for divestment. The movement has quickly grown and clearly shows the need and the will to switch to a clean energy economy.

Marion MEYER

Marion MEYER

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