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The fossil fuels divestment movement is making big strides But individual investors have little way of knowing what they own. Last year, on the eve of the historic People’s Climate March in Manhattan, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (heir to the Standard Oil fortune) made headlines when it announced would it no longer invest its $860 million endowment in fossil fuel companies. How can you be sure your savings are invested in companies that are 100 percent clean and not in ones that seem determined to set the planet on fire?
According to a report from Arabella Investors, so far governments and investors holding $2.6 trillion in assets have joined the divestment movement. No doubt this is encouraging news, evidence of the growing cultural potency of the divestment movement. The financial markets are notoriously opaque, especially when it comes to huge funds that include hundreds of different equities, bonds, and other investment vehicles (just think of the bundled investments that almost tanked the economy in 2008). Even a guy like Behar, a leader in the socially responsible investment field, had a hard time figuring out where his money was. Take the Vanguard Value Index (ticker symbol: VIVIX), a fund with some $38 billion under management. What about the Fidelity Contrafund (FCNKX), the largest of the many different Fidelity funds with $113 billion in assets?
If your savings is overseen by a private financial planner, you should make the same case to them, and consider moving your money to one of the 100 percent-clean funds that do exist.


Making a moral case to your financial planner about why you’re opposed to fossil fuel investments is important, Behar says. Jason Mark, Editor, Earth Island JournalJason Mark is the longtime editor of Earth Island Journal and author of the new book, Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man. Since then, the global movement pushing for investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel stocks has scored a number of other big wins. But what if you’re not a huge philanthropy with an expert staff of money managers or a hugely wealthy movie star? And even once you know what stocks you’re holding, convincing your mutual fund or money manager to take the divestment plunge is likely to be a tough sell.
While it has sold its holdings in major coal companies, about 18 percent of its portfolio remains in fossil fuel stocks of some kind. Its $176 billion worth of investments includes 72 holdings in fossil fuel companies accounting for about 11 percent of its total portfolio.
The Fossil Free Funds tool currently tracks 1,500 of the biggest mutual funds, relying on the raw data from market analysis firm Morning Star. Behar says that if your retirement savings is part of a company 401k plan, you should talk with the company’s HR department to see if they would offer a fossil fuel-free fund.
The California Senate has called on the state’s two largest pension system, CalPERS and CalSTERS.


If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans whose only connection to the stock market is through some kind of retirement account or mutual fund, how can you be sure your nest egg isn’t invested in companies that seem determined to set the planet on fire? When DiCaprio was asked at a Tuesday press conference how much he holds in fossil stocks, he waved away the question (literally, just waved). In all fairness, DiCaprio isn’t alone in not knowing what exactly he holds, or how much.
The business model of the major energy companies, he says, is simply not financially sustainable in the long term. The University of California system has dumped $200 million worth of stock from coal companies and companies involved in tar sands mining. When was the last time you took the time to wade through the catalog-thick prospectus that your mutual fund sends once a year?
For example, giant Chevron is spending more money on exploration than it’s earning in revenue from oil sales. And on Tuesday Leonard DiCaprio announced he was also pulling his money out of fossil fuels.



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