The financial impact of fossil fuel divestment

Auke Plantinga, Bert Scholtens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The fossil fuel divestment movement tries to increase awareness about the need for climate action and heralds divestment from fossil fuel producers as a means to combat climate change. Financial investors are increasingly showing interest in the non-financial impact of companies they invest in, i.e. responsible investing. However, they also want to be assured of sufficient returns and limited risks to support the living costs of their ultimate beneficiaries. In this context, we investigate the impact of divestment and the transition of the energy system on investment performance. We rely on an international sample of almost seven thousand companies and study a period of forty years. Further, we investigate scenarios with very different pathways to the transition of the energy system. We find that the investment performance of portfolios that exclude fossil fuel production companies does not significantly differ in terms of risk and return from unrestricted portfolios. This finding holds even under market conditions that would benefit the fossil fuel industry. We conclude that divesting from fossil fuel production does not result in financial harm to investors, even when fossil fuels continue to play a dominant role in the energy mix for some time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalClimate Policy
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2020


  • Divestment
  • Fossil fuel
  • Energy system transition scenarios
  • Stock market
  • Investors
  • Climate change


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