Leading Conservation Group Divests 70% of Fossil Fuel Exposure

CBSG's Portfolio Shows How Conservation Organizations Worldwide Can Serve Their Conservation Mission and Financial Portfolio Goals

Apple Valley, MN –The Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) today announced it has reached 70% divestment from the 200 fossil fuel companies with the most proven carbon reserves.

The financial board of CBSG’s nonprofit support organization, Global Conservation Network (GCN), unanimously approved the proposed investment strategy. After moving its money this week, the international conservation organization is well on its way to reaching the goal of full divestiture by the end of 2017.

To formulate a new investment strategy that avoids fossil fuels, CBSG partnered with the portfolio management firm HIP Investor. HIP Investor designs portfolios that reduce knowable risks, seek enhanced returns, and pursue net positive benefit to society and the environment. HIP developed an investment strategy for CBSG within the Vanguard platform that would align with both CBSG’s mission and investment goals.

CBSG‘s mission is to save threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide. Scientific evidence increasingly shows that climate change will become a primary driver of species extinction in the coming century. Climate change stands to undermine conservation efforts, leading CBSG to seek to address it on multiple levels.

“CBSG is focusing attention on the issue of climate change due to the urgency of the threat to species and the need for accelerated action in the search for solutions,” said Onnie Byers, CBSG chair. “Last year, the GCN Board voted to become one of the very first conservation organizations in the world to divest from fossil fuel companies. Now, just one year later, we are 70% divested and clearly on our way to full divestment.”

According to a recent paper, “Horizon Scan of Global Conservation Issues for 2014” published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the “response of financial markets to unburnable carbon” is one of the top conservation concerns in the coming year. Following the implementation of government policies to limit carbon emissions and avoid disastrous climate change, the reserves held by fossil fuel companies will need to remain unburned. Limiting exposure to these companies now will help protect CBSG’s portfolio from the future risk of fossil fuel investments becoming stranded assets.

“The GCN Board unanimously and enthusiastically approved the proposed divestment plan because it appropriately aligns our investment strategy with CBSG’s purpose of planning a future for wildlife, whilst remaining fiscally prudent,” said Jo Gipps, chair of the GCN Board. “Divestment will enable CBSG to avoid declines in the market value of its investments that will almost certainly occur as fossil fuel consumption falls due to stricter national regulations developed to comply with international agreements on emission limits. But, more importantly, divesting from fossil fuels shows that CBSG is committed to taking a strong position on the threats to the environment in general, and to wildlife in particular, posed by human-induced climate change.”

Divestment was accomplished through implementing a diversified portfolio designed by HIP Investor that is resilient to future fossil fuel risk and comprised of everyday funds that are easily accessible. CBSG plans to be fully divested by the end of 2017.

In addition to its own divestment, CBSG is also coordinating the climate change initiative “Zoos & Aquariums for 350,” which calls on zoos and aquariums to pursue divestment of their institutions’ investments from fossil fuel companies, as well as reduce carbon footprints, offset remaining carbon emissions, and engage in climate change education initiatives.

CBSG provides species conservation planning expertise to governments, Specialist Groups, zoos and aquariums, and other wildlife organizations by using expert facilitation and the application of science-based planning tools. CBSG is a Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC).


Onnie Byers, CBSG Chair
Email: onnie@cbsg.org
Phone: 952-997-9800
12101 Johnny Cake Ridge Road
Apple Valley, MN 55124