An environmental campaign calling on groups to pull their investments from fossil fuel corporations could have a major impact on the industry and carries the potential to spur widespread political and economic stigmatization of big money polluters, a study released this week by Oxford University found.
Pulling from past examples of divestment campaigns such as those against companies in apartheid South Africa, the study argues that while initial financial impacts on fossil fuel corporations may be limited, such campaigns have the ability to create a stigma around industries or particular corporations “that scares away suppliers, subcontractors, potential employees, and customers.” This, in turn, impacts the ability of those companies to exert influence over governmental policy and amongst shareholders. In the long run, profits will suffer and companies will change behavior.
And current divestment campaigns such as 350.org’s ‘Fossil Free’ effort are doing just that.
Fossil Free, a quickly growing divestment campaign at the center of the Oxford study, has influenced 41 institutions since 2010 to divest from the fossil fuel industry, and “poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain,” the report states.
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