Monday 12 December 2016 16.00 GMT
The value of investment funds committed to selling off fossil fuel assets has jumped to $5.2tn, doubling in just over a year.
The new total, published on Monday, was welcomed by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who said: “It’s clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play.”
The fossil fuel divestment campaign began on university campuses in 2011 but the new report reveals that concerns over investments in coal, oil and gas have now entered the financial mainstream, with more than 80% of the funds now committed to divest being managed by commercial investment and pension funds.
The report found that 688 institutions and more than 58,000 individuals across 76 countries are now committed to divestment, including major financial institutions such as the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, owned by Norway, and Allianz and Aegon.
“I commend today’s announcement that a growing number of investors are backing a shift away from the most carbon-intensive energy sources and into safe, sustainable energy,” said Ban. “Investments in clean energy are the right thing to do and the smart way to build prosperity for all, while protecting our planet.”
“$5tn in five years is a stunning and unprecedented figure,” said Ellen Dorsey, at the philanthropic Wallace Global Fund, one of the earliest backers of the fossil fuel divestment movement. “It represents a growth the fossil fuel industry would envy.”
Lou Allstadt, a former senior executive at Mobil Oil, said: “Divestment is speeding up the clock on the final accounting that will show fossil fuels are out and clean energy is in.”
Scientists have shown that most existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned without causing dangerous climate change. Campaigners argue this makes fossil fuel companies – which are spending billions exploring for even more coal, oil and gas – bad investments on both moral and financial grounds