The bad news is we are cooking the planet by burning fossil fuels.
The good news is we are running out of fossil fuels.
end of story, no problems, right?
Except that the big money has now moved into fossil fuels, heedless of the bad news above. When the housing mess collapsed, searching for oil and building coal terminals became the next best investment. In the rush to turn the Great Barrier Reef into an industrial estate, investors include the major banks in Australia, many foreign banks, and many super funds and universities.
It seems the stability of the global economy partly depends on something called ‘capital formation’, which I guess means generating enough investment surplus to fund other things. (Help me here, because reading the Economist regularly hasn’t really enlightened me all that much about economics, but I read it for the arts, too.)
Since the advice of just about all scientists and the World Bank, and the military, and the UN and PWC, etc, is that climate change poses enormous, perhaps insurrmountable obstacles for security, food and survival (have I left anything important out?) it then follows that any and all efforts to shift the world’s money flows away from things that will destroy us and into things that might help save us are both sensible and urgent.
Bill McKibben’s efforts in this direction have met with some success, as big institutions see the writing on the wall, (or maybe the burning bush) and are eyeing the returns on renewables with some comfort.
And here, at Canberra’s unis, already students and academics are asking questions of the Vice Chancellors about divesting of fossil fuel stocks. These questions are not always coming from the high moral ground or paranoia about climate change, either. Some are coming from business and marketing disciplines, that ask about the reputational risk and even ROI if this movement gets mainstream.
Here is one of of the big numbers McKibben presented in his ‘do the maths’ tour, he was most charming:
“We can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming …Burning the fossil fuel that corporations now have in their reserves would result in emitting 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide – five times the safe amount.”Bill McKibben 350.org