2002: The Global Climate Coalition, a group of industrial corporations opposed to the Kyoto Protocol, dissolves after a national divestment campaign run by environmental activist Phil Radford.
Spring 2011: The first protests against investment in fossil fuels occur on U.S. college campuses beginning with Swarthmore College. According to Swarthmore Mountain Justice, the environmental advocacy group at the movement’s forefront, students began to pressure their school to divest its endowment from the largest 16 fossil fuel companies after witnessing the impact of coal mining on the Appalachian Mountains.
December 2011: Hampshire College, the first school to divest from South Africa during apartheid, also becomes the first academic institution to divest from fossil fuels.
2012: 350.org launches the ‘Go Fossil Free: Divest from Fossil Fuels!’ campaign across the country, calling for institutions to disinvest from fossil fuel companies. Divest Harvard is founded after Bill McKibben publishes “Climate Change’s Terrifying New Math” in the August 2012 issue of Rolling Stone. 72 percent of students vote to support the divestment of Harvard’s endowment during the 2012 UC elections.
December 2012: The city of Seattle commits to divest its daily operational budget, the first city in the world to do so.
April-June 2013: The cities of Berkeley, Calif., Boulder, Colo., and Ithaca, N.Y. commit to pursue divestment. Truro and Provincetown, Mass. commit to divest in May. In June, Providence, R.I. becomes the first state capital to commit to divest. Shortly after, Portland, Or. commits to pursue divestment.
July 2013: The Cambridge City Council votes to recommend that the city’s retirement board divest from fossil fuels.
October 2013: President Drew G. Faust reaffirms the University’s anti-divestment stance in a letter to the Harvard community. Boxtel, in the Netherlands, becomes the first municipality in Europe to divest.
March 2014: Alli J. Welton ’15, one of the student organizers of Divest Harvard, confronts University President Faust about Harvard’s stance on divestment as Faust walks across Harvard Yard, claiming that Harvard’s investments in the oil industry prevent the very research into renewable energy that it pursues. Faust responds, “That is not the case.” The incident is videotaped and receives widespread coverage. Faust counters in an email to Divest Harvard, expressing her disappointment in their methods.
May 1, 2014: Harvard student Brett A. Roche ’15 is arrested for blocking access to Massachusetts Hall during Divest Harvard protests.
May 2014: Stanford University divests from coal.
June 2014: The British Medical Association divests from fossil fuels, the first medical organization in the world to do so.
September 2014: After the People’s Climate March, in which many Harvard students take part, the Rockefeller Foundation commits to divest its $4.2 billion in assets away from fossil fuel companies. A few days later, the Church of Sweden announces its complete divestment. At this point, there have been over 180 commitments by cities and institutions to divest, more than double the committments as of January this year.