Fossil fuels are changing the climate, and changing our world for the worse in terrible ways. But for the moment they are also the biggest money-making scheme on earth, and because of that it is very difficult to stop them.
The Guardian reports that oil and gas majors are planning scores of vast projects ("Carbon Bombs") that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal. If governments do not act, these firms will continue to cash in as the world burns. If governments do act, most of the world's remaining oil, coal and gas will become un-burnable, and fossil fuel investments will quickly become worthless.
If you have a pension then it is likely that your pension fund has investments in fossil fuel companies. The same is true if you have savings in an ISA. This means that while the fossil fuel bonanza continues, your investments are helping to fuel it. It also means that these investments are vulnerable to sudden and catastrophic devaluation.
Warwickshire County Council has investments of around £94 million in the oil, gas and coal industries, on behalf of current and future pension-holders, and Warwickshire Climate Alliance is campaigning for the Council to sell these investments. The situation is complicated: UK pension fund managers are obliged by law to consider only the financial interests of their pensioners: moral considerations do not apply -- nor, even, the possible harm to the pensioners' children and grandchildren under the climate collapse the pensions investments are helping to bring about. But WCA, along with leading investment analysts, argues that on financial grounds alone, the Council should divest from fossil fuels. See our briefing below to find out why.
Fossil Fuel Investments -- the UN view
In April 2022, shocked by the latest IPCC report that said it was “now or never” to start slashing emissions, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, launched an outspoken attack on companies and governments whose climate actions did not match their words.“Simply put, they are lying, and the results will be catastrophic,” he said. “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”
The table below summarises Big Oil Reality Check's assessment of the oil and gas companies' climate plans. In the recent BBC TV programme Big Oil versus The World, US Senator Chuck Hagel, famous for preventing US ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, accepts, on screen, that the fossil fuel companies had lied to him when they assured him that their product would not harm the climate. Are the financial experts who still recommend fossil fuel investments likewise misled?