With the election now a distant memory (perhaps), it’s time to turn our attention to other opportunities to influence those who can act at the scale needed to tackle climate change. The divestment campaign is developing such ability to influence with Axa announcing just last week that they were moving $500 million out of coal investments. Last night’s #keepitintheground campaign hosted by the Guardian was a timely reminder that the debate has moved on from being purely a moral issue to being a pragmatic one, from a debate about the science to a debate about the economic and political solutions.
The business case for divestment is robust: regulation (and hence cost) is increasing, alternatives such as solar are becoming increasingly cost competitive and the social licence for fossil fuel companies to operate is dropping away. The shift over the last two or three years is pronounced which is why public divestment now makes sense. Fossil fuel companies are betting that the world will not commit to holding global temperatures to a 2% rise, if we do then many of their assets (oil reserves) will be unusable – worthless – and the companies themselves will be worth significantly less. If we don’t commit, those assets might not lose value but our homes and cities will.
Investment managers recognise these risks, but can only divest of fossil fuels if you ask them to. So ask them. Ask your pension or ISA provider to divest, ask your workplace to do the same, join the campaign to persuade Camden council to divest. Use your money to do good rather than simply less bad. I divested a long time ago – it was easy to move my pension and ISA to an ethical one which avoided investment in fossil fuels and if you want to take one simple action to reduce climate change right now, this one is it.