"If it's wrong to wreck the planet, then it's also wrong to profit from that wreckage"
The Fossil Free Europe Tour kicks off in Berlin today, launching a new fossil fuel divestment campaign in Europe. Participants include 350.org founder Bill McKibben, partner organizations and other climate leaders. They reach London on 1 November, passing through Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
"If it's wrong to wreck the planet, then it's also wrong to profit from that wreckage", says McKibben. "But there is also an increasingly strong financial case to be made for divestment: the risk of a growing carbon bubble in financial markets. To keep global warming under 2C - a goal that even the most conservative governments have agreed to meet - we can only emit roughly 500 gigatons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However the coal, oil and gas reserves owned by private and public companies and governments contain 2,795 billion tons of CO2."
He cites the work of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which keeps tabs on fossil fuel reserves and exploration expenditures. Their calculations indicate that the great bulk of existing reserves must remain underground to avoid climate catastrophe. This means that the billions of dollars currently being invested in exploration are either wasted, or will destroy Earth's still equable climate. Moreover fossil fuel backed stocks and bonds - which are based on long term revenues from fossil energy production - should be downgraded to junk status.
"The top 200 coal, oil and gas companies by size of reserves spent almost $700 billion in the last 12 months on finding and developing more reserves", says McKibben. "This makes the fossil fuel industry a rogue industry whose business plan is incompatible with a livable planet. Hence the need for a divestment campaign to challenge the political power of the industry and push governments to pass stronger regulations, like a stiff price on carbon, to address the climate crisis."
Modelled on the successful 1980s campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa, the fossil fuel divestment campaign has already spread to more than 370 universities, 100 cities and states, and dozens of religious institutions have joined the campaign.
More information on the Fossil Free Europe Tour.