“The research shows that [divestment] does make a difference,” Mikkelson said. “The most comprehensive study [of divestment movements] was done at Oxford, and they looked at other divestment campaigns that didn’t necessarily cripple the industries they were targeting, but what they did do is make a big public impact, and that spurred governments to take action [….] Divestment creates impact by raising awareness, stigmatizing target companies, and influencing legislation.”
Etzion further emphasized the status of divestment as a social rather than economic movement.
“I don’t really perceive [fossil fuel divestment] as a financial tactic,” Etzion said. “It’s about something much bigger than what you invest in, it’s actually a social movement. And the objective of this tactic is to de-legitimize an entire industry. [Universities] are very influential in how the world perceives issues, and [divestment] empowers people to envision a world that is not running on a path to destruction.”