Impacts of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement: Effects on Finance, Policy and Public Discourse
Noam Bergman ()
Additional contact information
Noam Bergman: SPRU–Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9SL, UK
Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 7, 1-18
The fossil fuel divestment movement campaigns for removing investments from fossil fuel companies as a strategy to combat climate change. It is a bottom-up movement, largely based in university student groups, although it has rapidly spread to other institutions. Divestment has been criticised for its naiveté and hard-line stance and dismissed as having little impact on fossil fuel finance. I analyse the impact of divestment through reviewing academic and grey literature, complemented by interviews with activists and financial actors, using a theoretical framework that draws on social movement theory. While the direct impacts of divestment are small, the indirect impacts, in terms of public discourse shift, are significant. Divestment has put questions of finance and climate change on the agenda and played a part in changing discourse around the legitimacy, reputation and viability of the fossil fuel industry. This cultural impact contributed to changes in the finance industry through new demands by shareholders and investors and to changes in political discourse, such as rethinking the notion of ‘fiduciary duty.’ Finally, divestment had significant impact on its participants in terms of empowerment and played a part in the revitalisation of the environmental movement in the UK and elsewhere.
Keywords: divestment; fossil fuels; impact; social movements; environmental movements; stranded assets; activism; climate action (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:7:p:2529-:d:158772
Access Statistics for this article
Sustainability is currently edited by Prof. Dr. Marc A. Rosen
More articles in Sustainability from MDPI, Open Access Journal
Bibliographic data for series maintained by XML Conversion Team ().