IPCC: Divest from Fossil Fuels for a Safe Climate

(Image via Stefan Bumbeck/7dvt.com)

IPCC: Divest from Fossil Fuels for a Safe Climate

"It does not cost the world to save the planet" -- Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III

"It does not cost the world to save the planet" -- Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III

The Working Group III contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report released yesterday provides a comprehensive assessment of all relevant options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as activities that remove them from the atmosphere. The previous two reports outlined the underlying science and the impacts of climate change.

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change at the lowest cost, the report envisages an energy revolution ending centuries of dominance by fossil fuels.

The IPCC concludes that to reach the two-degree target (a target still attainable according to the IPCC), major changes would be needed to energy systems ending the 'business-as-usual' scenario.

A clear relevance to the growing divestment movement is found in this statement:

"[M]itigation policy could devalue fossil fuel assets, and reduce revenues for fossil fuel exporters."

In other words, time to DIVEST if you haven't already.

The inevitable move to a more equitable and sustainable energy economy as governments regulate emissions in order to meet their stated goal of limiting global warming below 2degC, means much of the known coal, oil and gas reserves of the fossil fuel industry will need to remain unburned, turning them into stranded assets and creating a large financial risk for the companies that own them.

The world's political, business, and financial elite need to heed to the reality of the carbon bubble and commit to disinvest from fossil fuels.

Just last week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu added his voice in support of the growing divestment movement and called for an anti-apartheid style campaign against fossil fuel companies, which he blames for the "injustice" of climate change.

In his words: "It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. Already some colleges and pension funds have declared that they want their investments congruent with their beliefs."


The solutions to make the shift from fossil fuels to renewables are clear. We need to stop pumping money into a rogue industry that is determined to maximize its profits at any cost. Divestment is the means to shift investments away from coal, oil and gas companies and into a more equitable and sustainable energy economy.

Investors have scientific evidence that if you put your money into fossil fuels you are complicit in wrecking our future.

We now know that catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards. The IPCC WGIII report concludes the transformation required to a world of clean energy and the ditching of dirty fossil fuels is eminently affordable.

Furthermore, the report states that diverting hundreds of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3% [1] Moreover, the analysis did not include the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which could outweigh the costs. The benefits include reducing air pollution and improved energy security.

Fossil fuel companies and their financiers take note: the era of fossil fuel energy is ending.