Dumped the day before Valentine's - Global Divestment Day 2015 party under way in Adelaide, Australia. Photo: 350.org via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
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Join Global Divestment Day and make fossil fuels history!
13th February 2015
Increasing numbers of investors are waking up to the reality that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end, writes Yossi Cadan. But there's one sector that hasn't yet got the message: the fossil fuel industry itself is determined to keep on piling good money after bad. So join the worldwide divestment party this weekend and help ram the message home!
The fossil fuel industry is fighting change as hard as it can, making divestment the only viable option to bring about the urgent changes we need to avert climate chaos.
Today marks the beginning of Global Divestment Day - a worldwide event marking the growing demands for individuals and institutions - churches, foundations, pension funds and others - to take their investments out of dirty energy.
The campaign has gained astonishing momentum and is seriously rattling the fossil fuel industry, and those invested in it. How do I know that? Because the industry is fighting back - however ineptly.
This week the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) published a new report in which they claimed that over the past 50 years, portfolios that included fossil fuels investments would have yielded more than those which would have removed fossil fuels from their investments.
After seeing fossil fuel share prices battered by the combination of low oil and gas prices, and the increasingly successful divestment campaign, it's a desperate attempt to restore investor confidence - and one that's doomed to failure.
Authored by Daniel R Fischel, a retired Chicago Law School professor, the report compares the 50-year performance of investment portfolios with and without fossil energy stocks. He concludes that the costs of divestment are "clearly substantial" and threaten to have "real financial impacts on the returns generated by endowment funds." In the case of US universities alone, he writes, it could cost them $3.2 billion a year.
In fact, Professor Fischel was clearly cherry-picking information to reach a predetermined conclusion - as dictated by his fossil fuel industry funders.
As history tells us, the future is unlike the past
Moreover smart investors are not basing their investment decisions on performance over the last half century - any more than 1950s investors in railway locomotion were betting on the steam engine, just because it had made handsome profits for the last 200 years.
They are interested in what will happen in the future, because that's what will determine their gains or losses. And right now they are taking increasing note, and acting upon, the innumerable indications that we are approaching the end of the fossil fuel era.
I must also emphasize our main message since the very start of the divestment campaign (it looks like the fossil fuel industry missed it): it's not just about profits! It's about climate change and making investment choices that will not destroy our planet for generations present and future.
Regardless of the so-called 'facts', this report exposes the fossil fuel industry's colors. Its underlying message is that the industry does not want to change, despite the ever increasing weight of solid scientific evidence telling us that we must change. For them it's about continuing with business as usual.
They want to continue to extract ever increasing volumes of fossil fuels, as they have over the last 50 years, no matter how it is going to affect humanity. And so they continue to block every attempt to introduce policies and regulations that will force them to alter the course of the next 50 years.
Their desire is simple: to continue amass profits and wealth, even as the fundamental processes that run our planet are disrupted by rising temperatures, and the poorest and most vulnerable people are hit by climate chaos.
So the IPAA report - and the recently released fossil fuel promo below - are a wake-up call for those who choose engagement with the fossil fuel industry. It is fighting change as hard as it can, making divestment the only viable option to bring about the urgent changes we need to avert climate chaos.
Divestment is 'in'
Over the last few months, hardly a week could go by without new announcements of divestment commitments. Most recently, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth, the largest single fund in the world, announced it was divesting from a total of 22 companies, potentially totaling billions of dollars in assets.
Similar announcements came from Bristol council in the United Kingdom and the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. All these announcements came in less than two weeks, testimony to the exponential growth of the divestment movement, and another blow to the reputation of the fossil fuel industry.
This is why communities across the globe are coming together this weekend for Global Divestment Day - a global party with 380 events taking place in 58 countries across 6 continents. From South Africa to USA, Bangladesh to Berlin, people are showing their commitment to taking on the fossil fuel industry.
This day marks an escalation and an expansion for the divestment movement, thousands of people from all over the world joining a growing movement.
The notion that we are approaching the end of the fossil fuel era is becoming more and more mainstream. Even banks are acknowledging the fact that if the world takes its climate change commitments seriously, then the dynamics of oil will be altered beyond recognition.
Coal, oil and gas will become constrained by the level of demand allowed under CO2 emission limits and this will have implications for the behavior of countries, companies and consumers alike. Perhaps last year's falling prices were the first rumblings of this profound change.
Meanwhile renewable energy sources, solar in particular, are becoming ever cheaper, and have even reached the long sought-after 'grid parity' in sunny parts of the world. Even The Economist, which no one suspects of being left leaning, is telling us that the "fall in oil prices provides a once in a generation opportunity to fix bad energy policies."
But the fossil fuel industry isn't giving up. This very morning the World Coal Association has chosen to launch its call for more investment in so-called 'clean coal', insisting: "Greater investment is needed in cleaner coal technologies to meet global energy demand, alleviate energy poverty and minimise CO2 emissions." Which sounds like putting a fire out by adding more fuel.
A call to action!
In the Pope's recent visit to the Philippines, local Catholic institutions provided His Holiness with a letter that said:
"Investing in fossil fuel companies and in eco-destructive projects is synonymous in supporting the destruction of our future. Divestment provides the means to change this status quo - to shift towards a system that will prioritize the welfare of the people and of nature over the relentless pursuit of profit."
For those who live in the Philippines and feel the horrendous impact of climate change, divestment is not about profits and losses from investments - its about their ability to survive.
Divestment and action on climate change is our era's moral call. It's about our existence on the face of this planet and therefore we invite everyone to join this growing movement during Global Divestment Day to defend our future.
Join thousands of people across the planet for Global Divestment Day. Together, lets tell our institutions to dump their investments in dirty energies!
More information on Global Divertment Day and events near you - 13th-14th February.
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