I signed a Divestment Pledge so there’s no chance my investments could be going to the wrong people…right? So you’ve signed the divestment pledge, vowing to avoid investments in the top fossil fuel producers.
Or maybe you represent an institution that wants to take a stand against dirty investments. Either way, the question remains—do you actually know what’s in your funds?
How do I find out where my money’s really going?
Enter as You Sow, a shareholder advocacy nonprofit organization, and their newly launched FossilFreeFunds.org, a tool which reveals where fossil fuel holdings are hiding in 1,500 of the most-held mutual funds. We spoke with firm CEO, Andy Behar, who explains, “many people simply don’t know what they own, which is a problem we’d like to fix.” The firm notes, “this tool empowers investors who want to align their investments with their values and avoid supporting any company directly fueling climate change.”
It may be harder to find a truly clean fund than you think. For instance, did you know that some of the largest fund families, like Fidelity, Vanguard, and TIAA-CREF, do not offer any diversified mutual funds that are socially responsibly invested and free of the 200 largest fossil fuel companies? No? Neither did we.
So how does the tool work?
Upon logging onto FossilFreeFunds.org, you will be able to search for a specific fund name, ticker or fund family. “By checking boxes to customize the screening tool, users can self-define ‘fossil free’ via the Carbon Underground 200, Filthy 15 or coal, oil/gas, or fossil fired utilities,” Behar explains. The tool will then display what percentage of that fund is comprised of fossil fuel companies by weight and an individual breakdown.
As You Sow advocates that we are at a critical juncture in the divest-invest movement, with Behar citing “the fact that no one knows what they own is one of the greatest single stumbling blocks to broadening the Divest-Invest movement.” The movement is expected to be a major contributor to moving $1 trillion annually, for the next decade, away from “dirty” investments and into clean energy.
The firm’s plans don’t stop there—the tool will be gradually expanded to:
- Develop media outreach and advocacy training to enable employees to press 401(k) administrators to offer fossil free funds
- Add functionality for financial advisors to upload managed funds, private equity, and hedge fund holdings of clients for analysis and display
- Create new fund category screens for other ESG issues, including labor, human rights, LGBT, etc.
- With these tools at investors’ fingertips, As You Sow “fundamentally believes that what is transparent can be transformed, and that making the carbon embedded in mutual funds transparent will amplify and enable the work being done by many other organizations to grow the Divest-Invest movement.”