Voice Through Divestment

Voice Through Divestment

Marco Becht, Anete Pajuste, Anna Toniolo

Series number :

Serial Number: 

Date posted :

March 13 2023

Last revised :

July 26 2023
SSRN Share


  • Divestment • 
  • fossil free • 
  • carbon budget • 
  • shareholder engagement • 
  • responsible investment • 
  • climate change • 
  • Carbon Premium • 
  • economic narratives • 
  • net-zero commitments • 
  • social preferences • 
  • tweets as data

A common argument against divestment is that it discards voting power and has a small effect on stock prices. We argue that divestment is a statement of disapproval that aligns actions with words for effectiveness. We show that the Go Fossil Free divestment movement is a narrative with impact.

Viral divestment pledges depressed the share prices of all high carbon emitters, including those with no divestment. Peak virality coincided with a concurrent rise in the carbon premium and preceded net-zero commitments. The introduction of these commitments effectively recast divestment from a moral statement to a strategic exercise in risk management.


Real name:
Fellow, Research Member, Board Member
Solvay Brussels School for Economics and Management, Université libre de Bruxelles
Real name:
Anna Toniolo
Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance