The logic of fossil fuel divestment-reinvestment

Climate change is a profound threat to humanity

  • New York Times – ‘Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change’: Longer term, if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the risks are profound. Scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities. All of this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to play out, conceivably providing a cushion of time for civilization to adjust, but experts cannot rule out abrupt changes, such as a collapse of agriculture, that would throw society into chaos much sooner. Bolder efforts to limit emissions would reduce these risks, or at least slow the effects, but it is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely.
  • Ten global impacts from climate change in 2016
  • Carbon Brief: ‘Analysis: Just four years left of the 1.5C carbon budget’: ‘Four years of current emissions would be enough to blow what’s left of the carbon budget for a good chance of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C.’

Government actions to curtail climate change remain inadequate.

If fossil fuel companies burn all their reserves of oil, gas and coal, we will far exceed ‘safe’ limits to global warming

  • Carbon Tracker analysis: “Only 20% of the total [global] reserves can be burned unabated, leaving up to 80% of assets technically unburnable… Already in 2011, the world has used over a third of its 50-year carbon budget of 886GtCO2, leaving 565GtCO2. All of the proven reserves owned by private and public companies and governments are equivalent to 2,795 GtCO2. Fossil fuel reserves owned by the top 100 listed coal and top 100 listed oil and gas companies represent total emissions of 745GtCO2. Only 20% of the total reserves can be burned unabated, leaving up to 80% of assets technically unburnable.

But fossil fuel companies continue to block change

Despite this, remarkable change is already sweeping through the global energy sector

While long-term value in the fossil fuel sector appears to be gravely threatened

The international fossil fuel divestment movement continues to grow

• Comprehensive list of divestment commitments: Total value of institutions divesting now $5.45 trillion and 719 institutions globally, including Ireland (national strategic investment fund), the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the cities of Berlin, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Stockholm, and Sydney.

The fossil fuel sector has a great many negative impacts besides climate change

Frequently asked questions about divestment

Do the Math – the movie that started it all: