A campaign to persuade investors to take their money out of the fossil fuel sector is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and could cause significant damage to coal, oil and gas companies, according to a study from the University of Oxford.
The report compares the current fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has attracted 41 institutions since 2010, with those against tobacco, apartheid in South Africa, armaments, gambling and pornography. It concludes that the direct financial impact of such campaigns on share prices or the ability to raise funds is small but the reputational damage can still have major financial consequences.
“Stigmatisation poses a far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies – any direct impacts of divestment pale in comparison,” said Ben Caldecott, a research fellow at the University of Oxford‘s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and an author of the report. “In every case we reviewed, divestment campaigns were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation.”
The report is part of a new research programme on stranded assets backed by Aviva Investors, HSBC, Standard & Poor’s and others. It found: “The fossil fuel campaign has achieved a lot in the relatively short time since its inception.”