Climate change is happening now. Floods, typhoons and droughts are affecting many millions of people around the world and ever more frequently. This humanitarian crisis is currently having the biggest impact on those who have done least to create the problem. Left unchecked, it will affect us all.
Climate change is being driven by greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon Dioxide is a major contributor and is produced when fossil fuels are burnt. For the sake of our future, we must stop using fossil fuels as a resource and begin the transition to a clean and just energy economy.
One huge problem that climate campaigners are working to tackle is the outrageous amount of money currently invested in the fossil fuel industry. Be it educational or religious institutions, government authorities, medical associations or other, organisations all over the world have trillions of pounds invested in dirty, immoral fuel companies.
In short, public money is funding climate change. Put another way, organisations that are there to provide a moral service to the public are profitting from environmental damage. Fossil Free campaigners believe that this is immoral and irresponsible and are pushing for such institutions to divest.
The West Midlands Pension Fund is just one local organisation that is currently investing in the fossil fuel industry.
Research by 350.org, Platform, Friends of the Earth and others, shows that:
The WMPF is investing over £145 per resident in fossil fuels.
Money is invested into multinational fossil fuel companies including over £58 million in Shell and and £43 million in BP.
Companies like Shell and BP have always been and always will be immoral, thanks to their toxic impact on communities via oil spills, emmissions and leaks, to a long-term business plan that exists despite the very obvious impact of carbon on our atmosphere, and to their obstructive history in light of political attempts to solve the climate crisis. To have a pension fund invested in these companies is an ironic use of money meant to protect the future of its holders.
Fossil Free is first and foremost an ethical campaign but there are additonal economic risks posed by fossil fuel investments. A report by economist Nick Stern and thinktank Carbon Tracker launched in April 2013 showed that fossil fuel companies are highly over-valued due to the assumption that all of their reserves will, at some point, be burnt. If international governments are to stand by pledges made at the Paris climate talks in December 2015 to limit global temperture rise to 1.5 degrees, 80% of current fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. Stern’s report explained that this over-valuation has the potential to create a multi-trillion dollar investment bubble, now known as the ‘carbon bubble’, and cause a global financial crisis.