How it works: Methodology
Finding a fund
Fossil Free Funds sources financial data on equities and mutual funds from Morningstar. Our database contains information on thousands of U.S. open-end and exchange traded mutual funds, some of the most common funds held in 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and other retirement plans.
Search for mutual funds using name, ticker symbol, or asset manager. Use the search page to filter funds by investing style, fund family, and more. When you find a fund you're looking for, click on it to see the full results.
We don't have everything in our database — we only screen mutual funds that own direct stock investments, and can only display up to 3,000. Looking for your favorite fund and can’t find it? With more resources, we could include more funds — make a gift today to make a difference.
Screening a fund
For each mutual fund in our database, we examine every holding and determine if it is a stock issued by a fossil fuel company.
We only look for direct stock holdings in fossil fuel companies. That means that holdings that are not stocks, like cash holdings or bonds, are not rated. In the fund's investment profile, we show a "Percent Rated" metric, equivalent to the percent of the fund that is invested in stocks. The higher a fund’s Percent Rated value, the more holdings we were able to examine. A fund with a lower Percent Rated value may have hidden fossil fuel-related investments that our tool cannot account for, in the form of bond holdings or other asset types.
If a fund holds stock in a fossil fuel company
Five different fossil fuel screens are used to flag investments.
We calculate the total amount of exposure
Mutual funds can have a varying number of holdings, from less than one hundred to several thousand. We calculate the total number of flagged holdings in the fund, and the total amount and percentage of the fund’s assets that are invested in those companies.
If a fund doesn't invest in any of the fossil fuel companies we look for, that means it earns an A grade. You'll see a chart like this:
However, if a fund does have stock investments in fossil fuel companies, you'll see a chart like this, showing the overall exposure.
The breakdown of fossil fuel exposure is listed for each of the five fossil fuel screens.
If you click a category that a fund has exposure to, the chart will change to a breakdown of the fund's holdings in that category.
Grading fund fossil fuel investments
Funds are graded based on their total fossil fuel exposure, measured as the percent of fund assets invested in holdings flagged by any of the five fossil fuel company screens, where the funds with more exposure earn lower grades. Any funds with 0% exposure are assigned an “A grade”.
A: Fund fossil fuel exposure is 0%
If a fund does have fossil fuel exposure in the form of direct stock holdings of companies on the five fossil fuel company screens, a letter grade as assigned based on the level of exposure.
B: Fossil fuel exposure between 0% and 4%
C: Fossil fuel exposure between 4% and 7%
D: Fossil fuel exposure between 7% and 11%
F: Fossil fuel exposure between 11% and 100%
These thresholds reflect the distribution of results across funds, placing an approximately equal number of funds in each grade range.
We calculate the overall financed emissions
The basis for a carbon footprint is the annual GHG emissions of each company within the respective fund. To independently analyze and calculate carbon footprints for the mutual funds, we used the powerful "Carbon Footprint Analysis Tool" of yourSRI.com, which provides the data on corporate emissions worldwide - comprised of more than 40,000 companies.
We show two key metrics related to carbon emissions - the fund's relative carbon footprint, and the relative carbon intensity. The carbon footprint is based on amount of emissions per unit of investment, while the intensity is based on amount of emissions per unit of revenue.
For these two metrics, we compare the fund's results to a slate of 20 benchmarks from major index providers like MSCI, FTSE/Russell, S&P, and Morningstar. Using iShares ETFs as a stand-in for each index, we calculate the carbon footprint and divide the benchmarks into quartiles, labeled:
Low — Fund footprint/intensity is within the range of the bottom 25% of benchmarks
Below median — Fund footprint/intensity is within the range of the second 25% of benchmarks
Above median — Fund footprint/intensity is within the range of the third 25% of benchmarks
High — Fund footprint/intensity is within the range of the top 25% of benchmarks
Very high — Fund footprint/intensity is higher than all 20 benchmarks
We recalculate the benchmark quartiles each month based on their corresponding iShares ETFs.
We also show the emissions weight of the top 10 holdings in the fund. If a holding's emissions weight is higher than its portfolio weight, it means the holding is responsible for an outsized amount of the fund's carbon footprint.
We track funds with sustainability mandates
We display which funds earn Morningstar's "sustainability mandate" indicator. Sustainability-mandated funds make investment decisions based on issues like environmental responsibility, human rights, or religious views. A fund with a sustainability mandate may take a proactive stance by selectively investing in, for example, environmentally-friendly companies, or firms with good employee relations. They may also avoid investing in companies involved in promoting alcohol, tobacco, or firearms, or in the defense industry. Look for this symbol to find funds that have a sustainability mandate.
The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is a group advancing sustainable, responsible, and impact investing. Asset managers who are members of US-SIF often have policies to exclude or restrict investments in companies involved in fossil fuels, including energy companies and utilities. Look for this symbol to find funds that are members of US-SIF.
Fossil free action toolkit
When you're done looking up funds and finding the data you need, what's next? You can learn how to make a change and move your money with our fossil free action toolkit. Whether you’re an individual investor or if your investments are in your employer-sponsored plan at work, our step-by-step toolkit can help. There's links to external resources, a video how-to guide, a sample letter to send to your employer 401(k) manager, even a detailed white paper on the financial details of fossil free retirement plans - everything you need to make a change and get started investing your money fossil free.