Greenpeace, Fossil Fuels, and a bit of Hope – This Week in Sustainabilty

The week began with some sad, but not unexpectedly so, news, when the European Think Tank Group reported‎@ettg_eu ) that some ten years after committing to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies EU governments are still at it. Worse, they lack “concrete plans to put an end to taxpayers’ money being spent,” on accelerating the climate crisis. Worse yet, most have no clear plan to end subsidies in the near future.

And we on this side of the pond tend to look to Europe as both transparent and advanced in their approach to addressing the climate crisis! Are fossil fuel vested interests just this strong?

More investors dumping fossil fuels – 350.org reports

Relief from the EU disappointment came later in the week when the Financial Times reported a rise in the number of investors dumping fossil fuel stocks. At the time of the Paris climate agreements in 2015, investors controlling USD 52 billion had divested from their fossil fuel stocks. Today, 350.org reports over USD 11 trillion have been divested by over 900 investors (e.g., asset managers, pensions and insurers, etc.).

The FT quoted Ahmed Mokgopo, a divestment campaigner at 350.org, saying, “The divestment campaign started to question the moral legitimacy of the fossil fuel companies and we’ve definitely achieved that.” My thirty years as a sustainability investment analyst tells me maybe investors are finding climate morals. More likely: the ‘brand’ costs and the risk of oil and gas stocks are getting too high for many fund managers.

(Want information on how to invest sustainably? See my book Invest Like You Give a Damn)

Thanks for tweet @alicekorngold and @ChristopherNFox

Climate adapation discussion spins up after Dorian

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, much of the sustainability Twittersphere turned from the effects of the climate crisis to adaptation as the breadth, depth and human/natural toll of the storm set in.

The economic cost will also be enormous. Estimates of climate crisis related insurance claims this year will easily exceed the nearly USD 200 billion of 2018. Yet this hardly begins to capture the total costs of climate change for the year, which is estimated at USD 500 billion. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects global economic damages by 2100 could “reach $54 trillion with a 1.5-degrees Celsius of warming of the planet, $69 trillion with 2 degrees Celsius of warming and $551 trillion with 3.7 degrees Celsius of warming.”

McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy, estimates that if low-cost carbon abatement opportunities currently available are aggressively pursued, the global cost of addressing the climate crisis would be USD 311 to USD 436 billion per year by 2030. This is less than 1% of the forecasted global GDP for the same year and does not count positive employment and new industry development benefits.

Thanks to @1o5CleanEnergy for the tweet!

Greenpeace at it again…. blocking oil ships in Houston

By Thursday night, all 22 Greenpeace USA protesters who had rappelled off the Fred Hartman Bridge at the Houston Ship Channel had been arrested.

Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Valentina Stackl said Friday morning, “Sometimes, we have to take these bold actions to fight in this struggle… the climate crisis is now and it’s real.”

The protesters, in addition to bringing world attention to the climate crises caused by fossil fuels, were hoping to get the attention of the 10 Democratic presidential candidates in Houston on Thursday night for the third Democrat National Committee presidential debate.

The really didn’t get much play at the debate, but good on them.

Extinction Rebellion takes to the skys

Speaking of protest, they continue apace in the UK where @ExtinctionRebellion protestors attempted to disrupt traffic with drones at Heathrow International Airport in London this week. Their demand is to have the government set a national strategy to get to zero carbon emissions.

Said the Extinction Rebellion drone pilot Roger Hallam, “The main reason I am doing it is because I’m trying to be a human” by confronting “radical evil in the world” through economic disruption.

Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion – featured on a Sustainable Century Podcast Extinction Rebellion – A New Playbook for an Ecological Revolution earlier this year – said: “As we continue to breech ecological tipping points I believe we will look back on these times and wonder why more people weren’t willing to take actions to peacefully close down climate wrecking infrastructure. “

Hallam was arrested Thursday in London.

Angela scolds car execs at Frankfurt motor show

All hail to Angela Merkle, the German Chancellor, who opened the International Motor Show Germany (IAA Thu, Sep 12-22), by scolding car company executives. Referring to Dieselgate, she warned: “consumers simply did not believe car companies anymore when they claimed to produce more sustainable vehicles. And why should they? (See also Big Auto = Big Tobacco or is it Big Oil?)

Merkle added that “High mobility will have its price, if more efficient, climate-friendly vehicles are not manufactured,”calling the European climate targets set for 2030 a huge challenge given no reduction in CO2 from traffic has been achieved since 1990.

Thanks to @AlexWitzleben for tweeting out a @BBC special on the happier news of a raft of new electric cars being unveiled at the show.

The Last Word in This Week in Sustainabilty

Once again, the Last Word for the Week in Sustainability is wisdom from American Indians.

I invite you to follow @AmericanIndian8 for some of the best social justice, natural environment, and spirituality tweets on Twitter. Check out a Sustainable Century podcast, American Indian Rising, with guest John LookingGlass of @AmericanIndian8 to hear all about their worldview.

Invest as if it matters

Want to get carbon and injustice out of your 401k or RRSP? Get my book Invest Like You Give a Damn and learn how.

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