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Fossil fuel lobby rattled by the rapid rise of the divestment movement

the long-term prospects for the fossil fuel industry look uncertain at the very least. But don’t take my word for it, thepresident of the World Bank and the governor of the Bank of England have among others warned of the risk posed to fossil fuel assets by climate change action.

The divestment movement does not seek to financially bankrupt the vastly wealthy fossil fuel industry. Instead, the campaign is aiming for moral bankruptcy and is supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who testifies to the power of divestment in helping defeat apartheid in South Africa.

With their opponents now taking the threat of divestment seriously, the campaigners will be hoping to they are another step closer to the final stage of Ghandi’s analysis: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

fossil-fuel-fightback-1Fossil fuel lobby goes on the attack against divestment movement Guardian,   12 Feb 15 The speed at which the fossil fuel divestment campaign is growing seems to have rattled its opponents in the coal and oil lobbies “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,” said Mahatma Gandhi. The climate change campaign to divest from fossil fuels seems to be moving through those stages at express speed, with a sudden barrage of attacks from the coal and oil lobbies ahead of its global divestment day on Valentine’s day.

The speed is appropriate given that the campaign, which argues the fossil fuel industry is a danger to both the climate and investors’ capital, is the fastest growing divestment campaign yet seen, moving quicker than those against tobacco and apartheid. It’s moving fast in the financial world too, with one finance executive calling it “one of the fastest-moving debates I think I’ve seen in my 30 years in markets”.

Let’s take the “laugh at you first”. This unintentionally hilarious cartoon, from a front group for a well-known anti-environmental PR firm, suggests that divestment will kill your “love affair” with fossil fuels, basically leaving you living in a dark cave.

The suggestion that divestment is about ending all fossil fuel use tomorrow is a complete fantasy. The actual demand is for investors to stop purchasing new stock and rebalance their portfolios out of fossil fuels over five years.

The justification is that there is already three times more fossil fuels ready to be extracted than can be burned, if the pledge by the world’s governments to keep global warming under 2C is to be kept. Yet the fossil fuel industry spent $670bn in 2013 exploring for more coal, oil and gas reserves that will be worthless if climate change is tackled.

In a similar vein, but closer to fighting than laughing, is the claim that coal is “the bedrock of modern life” from the American Energy Alliance, a group with links to the fossil fuel industry…………

Here are some studies, not funded by the oil industry, which indicate recent divestment would, if anything, have had a positive impact on returns and can reduce investment risk: MSCIAdvisor PartnersImpaxAperio,S&P Capital IQ and BNEF. I have seen one report, from Mercer, that said “divestment is likely to have up-front and recurring costs”.

But investors need to look forward. “It is completely wrong to assume the drivers of stock performance in the last 50 years will be same for the next 50 years,” says Ben Caldecott, at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment……..

Returning to the modern day, and reality, every nation on the planet has pledged to tackle climate change, meaning the long-term prospects for the fossil fuel industry look uncertain at the very least. But don’t take my word for it, thepresident of the World Bank and the governor of the Bank of England have among others warned of the risk posed to fossil fuel assets by climate change action.

The divestment movement does not seek to financially bankrupt the vastly wealthy fossil fuel industry. Instead, the campaign is aiming for moral bankruptcy and is supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who testifies to the power of divestment in helping defeat apartheid in South Africa.

With their opponents now taking the threat of divestment seriously, the campaigners will be hoping to they are another step closer to the final stage of Ghandi’s analysis: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2015/feb/11/fossil-fuel-lobby-goes-on-the-attack-against-divestment-movement

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February 13, 2015 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics

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