Personal carbon divestment campaign launched
Carbon divestment campaign is the fastest growing divestment movement ever
In April 2014, Archbishop Desmond Tutu added momentum to a call for people to ‘divest from carbon’ – or in other words to pull investments out of the oil, coal and gas sector.
“It makes no sense” he said “to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet”.
His intervention was an important moment. It gave clarity, impetus and voice to a fledgling idea, and fresh impetus to a new and vital political movement.
As individuals we still need to burn fossil fuels to stay warm or to travel across the country, but it is not inconsistent to say that we are now at a point where the financing of new oil wells, new coal mines and new fracking sites needs to stop.
Photo credit: Greenpeace, John Cobb
Shares in oil companies are being likened to those in tobacco in the 1970s and in South Africa in the 1980s. It is dirty money. And to profit from it is to profit from human suffering.
This argument is gaining traction so fast that even the Financial Times admitted that “a global campaign against fossil fuels is entering the financial mainstream”, and Kevin Bourne, FTSE Group managing director, described it as “one of the fastest-moving debates I think I’ve seen in my 30 years in markets.”
Major financial institutions are now lining up to announce an end to investments in coal, and are beginning to focus on pulling out of other fossil fuels and investing in renewables.
Clean energy investment
The transition away from a fossil-fuel economy requires not just divestment from carbon but also much investment in new renewables capacity. In a way this makes the new divestment movement a bit more complex than those of tobacco and South Africa in the past.
This theme is reflected in our new divestment campaign and marks the beginning of a shift in thinking in the personal finance sector. The ethically safe havens of a traditional building society are beginning to look less good when faced with the question ‘who will finance new renewable capacity?’
The real innovators like Triodos, the Ecology Building Society and, to some extent, the Co-operative Bank, are looking well placed in this brave new world.
The power is in our hands
Most people in Britain do not directly own shares but almost all of us have bank accounts and around half of us have pension funds investing in shares on our behalf.
A significant amount of finance for new fossil fuel extraction comes from our own banking sector, and campaigners around the world are beginning to measure and compare involvement and to name and shame the worst offenders.
We are now looking to spread the carbon divestment message to individuals and our new carbon divestment campaign page brings together all our latest research in one easy to use resource.
We hope that you with find it useful and share it as widely as possible.
Our campaign section is based on our recently released in depth research which also forms the basis of our ethical money section.