Total divestment commitments include full commitments, partial commitments, and divestments from coal & tar sands. The total assets under management committed to divestment are the cumulative value of the assets of individual institutions using the latest publicly available data on or from those institutions. These include the institution’s own reported size of endowment, annual and financial reports, and information posted on the institution’s websites.
The true amount of money being pulled out from fossil fuels is almost certainly larger since not all divestment commitments are made public.
In prior years, the assets tabulated in this database were solely calculated based on their value at the time of the commitment by the institution. As the age of the divestment movement has grown, this has meant that the total financial impact of the movement has been underestimated–the vast majority of institutions have seen their assets grow, in some cases, quite significantly, since the time of their commitment. To better reflect the true current value of the movement, this database was updated in October 2021.
Note that asset sizes represent the total assets under management of institutions that have committed to divest and do not represent the actual amount divested from fossil fuel companies. Total assets is used as the metric because the precise amounts of an investor’s portfolio devoted to fossil fuels is often not known, and the total assets under management represents the total pool of potential capital being taken “off the table” for the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel divestment commitments vary in the reach and impact on investments.
Many fossil fuel divestment commitments are partial in nature, in that the institution has chosen to divest solely from thermal coal or tar sands or only the largest fossil fuel companies by size of reserve. Others have committed to divesting only certain asset classes. As the movement has evolved, this spectrum of divestment commitments has widened. In recent years, divestment commitments have tended to be more comprehensive and restrictive, capturing a wider group of fossil fuel companies, with less of a focus solely on coal. Of late, there is increasing focus on private equity investments and their heavy exposure to fossil fuel companies, often ones that are more risky than publicly traded firms. This reflects the evolving financial literacy of decision makers as they increasingly recognize the risk of the entire fossil fuel industrial chain, beyond just coal. Descriptions of types of commitments are described below.
An institution or corporation that does not currently have any investments (direct ownership, shares, commingled mutual funds containing shares, corporate bonds) in fossil fuel companies (thermal coal, oil, gas) and committed to avoid any fossil fuel investments in the future Often, those in “The Carbon Underground: The World’s Top 200 Companies, Ranked by the Carbon Content of their Fossil Fuel Reserves” have been prioritized for divestment.
An institution or corporation that made a binding commitment to divest (direct ownership, shares, commingled mutual funds containing shares, corporate bonds or any assets classes) from any fossil fuel company (thermal coal, oil, gas) within a set timeline.
An institution or corporation that made a binding commitment to divest across asset classes from some but not all types of fossil fuel companies (thermal coal, oil, gas), or to divest from all fossil fuel companies (coal, oil, natural gas), but only in specific and not all asset classes (e.g. direct investments, domestic equity)
“Coal and Tar Sands”
An institution that has made a binding commitment to divest (direct ownership, shares, commingled mutual funds containing shares, corporate bonds or any asset classes) from any thermal coal and tar sands companies.
An institution or corporation that made a binding commitment to divest (direct ownership, shares, commingled mutual funds containing shares, corporate bonds or any assets classes) from any thermal coal companies.