17 December 2016

Please Write to Your MPs Asking Them To Support Fossil Fuel Divestment

It's is now clear that the incoming Trump government will be the most environment-hostile, and fossil fuel-friendly US administration in history.  As this perceptive post points out, this is no incidental feature, it is the defining feature of Trump and his plans:

Trump has surrounded himself with more oil industry and oil industry connected people than any president in history (even George W. Bush). You can’t understand what’s going on with Trump unless you understand the oil industry… and you can’t understand the oil industry without understanding climate change.

That's the bad news.  The good news is that we can fight this in a way that neither Trump nor the fossil fuel industry can block.  Given that it is unlikely that any progress in tackling climate change will be made on the political front, with the US blocking thwarting everything it can, we must turn to economics using divestment from fossil fuels as our main approach.

This is already happening on a massive scale, even if most people are unaware of that fact:

The value of investment funds committed to selling off fossil fuel assets has jumped to $5.2tn, doubling in just over a year.

The new total, published on Monday, was welcomed by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who said: “It’s clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play.”

We must do everything in our power to accelerate that move away from fossil fuels.  Once the business world gets the message that investing in fossil fuels is not just a bad idea, but potentially disastrous, the shift to renewable energy will happen rapidly, regardless of what Trump does.

Here in the UK, there's an opportunity to encourage a key group of decision makers to tell their pension fund to divest from fossil fuels: MPs.  In fact, there's an entire campaign to encourage them. If you are a UK citizen, I would like to urge you to contact your MP asking them to support this campaign.

You can either do this using the link above, or directly using the indispensable WriteToThem site.  Here's what I've just sent my MP: 

I am writing to ask you to support a call for the MPs' pension fund to divest from fossil fuels (details here: http://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament/). There are two main reasons for this.

The first is that it is clear that climate change is the greatest threat we face – not just because of its direct effects on the environment, but also because of the knock-on effects – for example in creating millions of climate refugees, or threatening the world's food supplies.

Confronted by an incoming US administration that is the most environmentally-hostile ever, it is clear we cannot expect the US to lead here – indeed, it seems likely actively to obstruct efforts to address climate change through international agreements.

Divestment from fossil fuels is the most effective way to counter that threat, since it is something we can all do, both as individuals and as groups. The net effect is to divert investment away from the technologies that are exacerbating the problem of global warming, towards those that help solve it, creating new jobs in the process.

Fossil fuel divestment is already taking place on a massive scale: a report published last week now puts the figure at $5 trillion (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/12/fossil-fuel-divestment-funds-double-5tn-in-a-year). If the MPs' own pension fund divested, this would both strengthen that movement and set a good example for others to follow.

The other reason why I would urge you to support divestment is that the "carbon bubble" is likely to burst soon, and will take with it any pensions that still have large-scale investments in fossil fuels. No less a person than Mark Carney warned of this last year (https://www.ft.com/content/622de3da-66e6-11e5-97d0-1456a776a4f5), so this is by no means some fringe idea, but mainstream and increasingly accepted.

I hope you agree that for the sake of this and future generations, we must move as rapidly as possible to embrace renewable energy, and that an effective way of accelerating that shift is to divest from fossil fuels.

Thank you for your help in this important matter.

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