NEW YORK -- The amount of money the world has pledged to divest from fossil fuels now exceeds $2.6 trillion, a group of policymakers, philanthropists and activists announced Tuesday. The figure is 50 times higher than the $52 billion that had been divested exactly one year ago.
The news was announced at a press conference in New York, hosted by groups including the United Nations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and environmental and faith leaders. The hosts said the $2.6 trillion figure was calculated by Arabella Advisors, a private consulting company that works with philanthropic groups.
In recent years, schools, private foundations, pension funds and individuals have taken up the call to divest, which refers to removing investments from industries such as oil, natural gas and coal. Harvard University has resisted pressure from students and faculty to divest the world’s largest university endowment, totaling some $32 billion.
But other groups have taken the opposite approach, including the University of California system, which announced earlier this month that fossil fuel investments were “no longer good
” for its $98.2 billion fund. And the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced last year that it would remove all of its $866 million in assets
from fossil fuels, a move seen as a massive step away from the organization's founding business.
“Given that we fight climate change, to us, investing in fossil fuels is somewhat akin to a cancer-fighting foundation investing in tobacco,” Justin Rockefeller, trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said at Tuesday's press conference.
The hosts of the conference also announced that actor Leonardo DiCaprio would divest his personal assets and those of his foundation from fossil fuels.
“The greatest investment capital shift in history will be long and complex,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. “It is well underway, and it is now unstoppable."
CLARIFICATION: The headline and text of this story have been amended to clarify that the $2.6 trillion figure represents the total amount of divestment that has been pledged, not just divestments that have been completed.