After Paris, Fossil Fuels Flail While Solar Stocks Soar
'No one can doubt that the fossil fuel age has finally begun to wane, and that the sun is now shining on solar. But the question, the only important question, is: how fast?' asks 350.org's Bill McKibben.
Fossil fuel stocks tumbled while renewable energy soared on Monday, the first day of trading after global leaders cemented their landmark climate pact in Paris.
Under the agreement, countries have pledged to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global warming beneath 1.5°C. And it is clear the fossil fuel industry is feeling the heat.
According to reporting on Monday, "The MAC Global Solar Energy Index was up 4.5 percent. The iShares Global Clean Energy exchange-traded fund, which allows investors to trade a basket of renewable energy stocks, rose 1.4 percent." At the same time, shares of companies that produce coal, Peabody Energy Corp and Consol Energy Inc. plummeted 12.6 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.
Portfolio manager Thiemo Lang of Zurich's RobecoSAM, which owns solar stocks, told Reuters the Paris Agreement "will help boost the mid- to long-term fundamentals in renewable energy generation, especially solar, while making any further investments in fossil fuels increasingly vulnerable."
Indeed, the movement to divest from fossil fuels has long-argued that investing in polluting industries is both economically and environmentally unwise. Earlier this month, the campaign announced that investors representing over $3.4 trillion in total assets have pledged to divest their holdings from fossil fuels.
Environmental campaigners, who say that the Paris Agreement falls drastically short of what's needed to actually address the climate crisis, maintained throughout the COP21 climate talks that a just transition to renewable energy must continue if the world has any hope of limiting temperature rise.
"Pace is now the key word for climate," said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben after the agreement was finalized. "Not where we’re going, but how fast we’re going there. Pace—velocity, speed, rate, momentum, tempo. That’s what matters from here on in."
"We know where we’re going now," he continued. "No one can doubt that the fossil fuel age has finally begun to wane, and that the sun is now shining on, well, solar. But the question, the only important question, is: how fast."
McKibben added that the agreement must serve as a floor, not a ceiling, for change.