Fossil Free: the development and significance of the fossil fuel divestment movement

As the probability and risks of catastrophic climate change continue to increase, fossil fuel divestment has become an increasingly important strategic focus for organisations seeking to counter the power of vested interests and accelerate support for rapid reductions in CO2 emissions. In this context, ‘divestment’ refers to strategies designed to encourage the withdrawal of existing investments from fossil fuel related industries and activities, as well as discouraging new investments. In some instances the divestment movement aims also to include action to promote and support the reinvestment of funds in alternative, more ‘climate friendly’ industries such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown quickly over the last few years, with limited opportunity to document and reflect on its achievements, limitations, and implications. This paper therefore aims to provide an initial overview of fossil fuel divestment initiatives, focussing particularly on Australia.

The paper concludes with some reflections on how the divestment movement could potentially contribute to helping society transition swiftly to a just and resilient post-carbon economy.

Read the full paper


John Wiseman

Kara Nicholson

Samuel Alexander

MSSI strives to inform and stimulate public conversation about key sustainability questions facing our society. Each MSSI Issues Paper aims to encapsulate the insights of a thinker or practitioner on a particular issue of importance to society. Although material is often closely informed by peer-reviewed academic research, the papers themselves are presented in a clear, discursive style intended for a broad readership.