Fossil Fuels Divestment: Is It Lawful?

29 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016

Date Written: November 22, 2016


This article assesses the legality of fossil fuels divesting, and highlights important differences in its legal context depending on the type of financial institution, such as university endowments, financial corporations, or sovereign wealth funds. The article focuses on the major Anglophile jurisdictions because they are either globally preeminent financial markets (United States and United Kingdom) or host large fossil fuel sectors such as oil sands (Canada) and coal mining (Australia). Divestment is likely to be lawful in many cases, depending on how it is done and the rationales. But even where the law supports their cause, divestment proponents have few legal options to challenge the decisions of financial managers who may choose not to divest.

Keywords: climate change; divestment; fossil fuels; legality

Suggested Citation

Richardson, Benjamin J., Fossil Fuels Divestment: Is It Lawful? (November 22, 2016). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Benjamin J. Richardson (Contact Author)

University of Tasmania - Faculty of Law ( email )

Private Bag 89
Hobart, Tasmania 7001


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