Bill McKibben: At Last, Divestment Is Hitting the Fossil Fuel Industry Where It Hurts

Homepage | Forums | Topics In Depth | Science and Environment | Bill McKibben: At Last, Divestment Is Hitting the Fossil Fuel Industry Where It Hurts

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • Author
    • #1770
      • Total Posts: 11,985

      As time went on, though, it became clear that divestment was also squeezing the industry. Peabody, the world’s biggest coal company, announced plans for bankruptcy in 2016; on the list of reasons for its problems, it counted the divestment movement, which was making it hard to raise capital. Indeed, just a few weeks ago analysts at that radical collective Goldman Sachs said the “divestment movement has been a key driver of the coal sector’s 60% de-rating over the past five years”.

      Now the contagion seems to be spreading to the oil and gas sector, where Shell announced earlier this year that divestment should be considered a “material risk” to its business. That’s how oil companies across the world are treating it – in the US, petroleum producers have set up a website designed to discredit divestment,. and for a while had me under round-the-clock public surveillance. The pressure is not preventing anyone from acting: when Yale arrested 48 brave students who were occupying its investment offices last week, they left chanting: “We’ll be back.”

      Divestment by itself is not going to win the climate fight. But by weakening – reputationally and financially – those players that are determined to stick to business as usual, it’s one crucial part of a broader strategy. The Carbon Tracker initiative in London published the first report laying out the fact that the fossil fuel industry has five times more carbon in its reserves than any climate scientist thinks is safe. And with activists marching and going to jail, phrases such as “stranded assets” were soon appearing in the mouths of everyone from hedge fund managers to the governor of the Bank of England.

      As Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who managed to push through the Paris accords in 2015, put it: “The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds. Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy.” Last year she turned down an honorary degree from a US university because it hadn’t yet sold its stock.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.