2019.043 Architects Divest

  • December 3, 2019
  • andyro

Image Above: Architects Divest banner image created by Michael deAdder. Architects Divest is a grassroots action planned by Jennifer Cutbill, Bruce Haden and Andy Thomson, and supported by many professional organizations, NGO’s and financial partners.

To visit the Canadian Architects Divest website click below:


“Architects literally help shape a better future. But right now they, and everyone else who cares about the climate crisis, are up against a financial system that supports the fossil-fueled status quo–indeed, up against banks literally lending hundreds of billions to expand oil and gas infrastructure. Bucking their power is an essential part of building the world we so badly need.” 

~ Bill McKibben | Schumann Distinguished Scholar | Middlebury College

As Bill McKibben writes in the New Yorker, Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns1. Over 2,500 Architects and Architecture firms around the world have declared a Climate Emergency. Urgent action is needed in almost every sector to address the issue in the short timeframe suggested by the IPCC, yet Canada’s major banks have financed $464 billion worth of fossil fuel projects since 20162. This website is intended to support Architects and Allied Professionals that are considering divestment with resources to;

  1. Educate Architects and Allied Professionals on the impacts of continued investment in fossil fuel expansion and infrastructure. We recommend starting here with the Rainforest Action Network’s Banking on Climate Change Report3,
  2. Understand the implications of doing ‘Business As Usual’ with their current banks and other financial partners, such as investment brokerages and insurers.
  3. Communicate to with their financial partners and advocate for their divestment from carbon intensive investments and request clarification on their institutional policies and where this is not satisfactory; 
  4. Provide insight from other practitioners to explain how they have divested their firm’s banks and financial partners that continue to finance the destructive expansion of fossil fuel developments, and transition to financial partners that have committed to the goals that will result in a post-carbon economy. 
  5. To broaden this initiative by use of the hashtag #architectsdivest across all social media platforms

Architecture and Construction globally represent as much as 40% of total global emission of GHGs. Energy, Infrastructure and Architecture have been inseparable for thousands of years, but the last two hundred years of super-carbon-intensive Architecture can and must move towards carbon neutrality, both in design practice and in its day to day business operations. We see this as not only possible but profitable, except for the numerous structural obstacles preventing this transition. 

Spring Floods
A residential street is shown surrounded by floodwaters in the town of Rigaud, Que. west of Montreal, Friday, April 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes  
Woolsey Fire in the Malibu Hills, California, 2018, Getty Images


Some of us are in the process of divesting, while others already have. We share with you our process to help you with yours.  


We are learning as we go, but each Architect’s letter can be more effective than the last as we gain more information on the subject of divestment. We aim to support a proactive and positive discussion with your bank, insurance company and financial advisors to inform them of the desire among professionals to transition away from carbon intensive ways of designing buildings and doing business as licensed, regulated professionals that serve the public interest, which includes a stable climate. (Jump to the Resources page.) 


A group of professional Canadian Architects that have been involved in the Architects Declare action have been discussing and compiling resources that we have posted on the Resources page. 


For all those that have blazed the trail, we seek to credit and encourage others to follow. We will also be lauding insurance companies and financial institutions that have either divested, or that have made clear and actionable commitments to a post carbon economy. You can read about individual and firms that have taken action here at the Blog.


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