IN MY OPINION
If I meet people figh-ting for our clean environ-ment, you might find me at their site. Activists have started a eight-day push to get individuals and institu-tions to divest from oil, gas and coal corporations. Investing in the fossil fuel industry equals pumping money into climate change, they say.
Fossil fuels seem to be losing their unquestioned position as the world’s primary source of energy, particularly after the Paris climate agreement. Even so, governments and private investors continue to sup-port fossil fuel businesses worldwide.
The Global Divest-ment Mobilization (May 5 to 13, 2017) will draw together thousands of people from across 39 countries on six continents to push forward divest-ment from fossil fuels, in favor of renewable energy. In other words, to convince investors to withdraw their financial support fossil fuel companies – and in doing so, protect the climate.
Environmental acti-vists and concerned individuals ask for an immediate freeze of any new investment in coal, oil or gas companies. The movement has spread across the world over the past five years. It’s based on the argument that investing in fossil energies fuels the climate crisis.
As a project of the environmental nonprofit organization 350.org, the Global Divestment Mobi-lization started in United States universities in 2012. But the movement has now reached global dimensions. “Everything is growing very rapidly,” Melanie Mattauch, Europe communications coordinator told international media.
The network includes now countries from Asia, Latin America and Africa. The development of the move-ment in Brazil, for instance, has been particularly exciting for Mattauch. “There, many bishops and Catholic groups are engaged,” she said. “They want the Vatican to react as a great moral autho-rity – and a great investor.”
And the movement has also been very successful, Mattauch said, pointing to its growth. More than 700 public institutions worldwide have already committed to divest, including educational institu-tions, philanthropic foun-dations and govern-ments. Just last week, the German city of Göttingen has become the fourth German city withdrawing investment in coal, oil and gas companies. As German citizen I am happy to learn about it.
Faith-based orga-nizations represent around 20 percent of the total divest-ment reached yet.
“Christians in the Church have a particular moral and religious obliga-tion to speak out on climate change,” a spokesperson from the Christian Climate Action group told German media. She didn’t want to be named, out of professional reasons.
This is indeed all about raising awareness and making pressure.
Some accuse fossil fuel companies of only surviving thanks to governmental subsidies. Oil Change International issued a 2015 report that G20 governments provided more than $400 billion (360 billion Euro) per year to fossil fuel production, including some of the world’s most carbon-intensive and polluting ones. Let’s face it: unless governments stop propping up fossil fuel companies, divestment will be limited, even with clean energy becoming ever cheaper.
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