A survey of financial professionals conducted in April 2015 showed an increasing interest in fossil-free and low carbon investment. Alternative energy historically has been labeled as "green" or "environmental" -- in other words, a fringe concern -- but that perception appears to be shifting.
Economics has emerged as another primary motivation in making decisions to invest in clean, renewable energy. Over 500 socially responsible investment professionals were queried for the survey, which seems to be a large enough sample size to make the result more than "interesting." From 2013 to 2015, the number of investment professionals providing fossil-free investments almost doubled.
Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said they believe 2015 is the right time to re-evaluate investments in fossil fuels and perhaps make changes to those investments. Divestment in fossil fuels sounds like it might be a politically motivated action, but fund managers are not social activists. Their focus is on helping their clients get good returns on their investments. Over three-fourths of the investors surveyed said that were beginning to see increasing risks associated with investing in fossil fuels.
Almost two-thirds of institutional investors said that they are interested in divesting from fossil fuels, and a full two-thirds of those surveyed said retail investors had expressed an interest in fossil-fuel-free investments.
The Fossil Free Indexes were developed to help investors switch from fossil fuel investments to low or no-carbon ones. A report on their site says that Harvard University’s investments might be linked to 100 million tons of carbon. Harvard is a world leader in the education field, so it could reconsider what example it wants to set for other universities and colleges, and its own students. Stanford has already started down the path by no longer investing its endowment in publicly traded companies that mine for coal.
There’s another component to divesting from fossil fuels that is very important. Coal mining and oil drilling are dangerous activities for workers. There are many injuries and some deaths associated with them each year. Building wind power farms and solar power plants is not nearly as dangerous for workers. Solar, wind and geothermal also do not cause catastrophic oil spills like Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon.
Image Credit: Chad Teer, Flickr and Wiki Commons