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Category — fossil fuels

Universities urged to cut fossil fuel ties

Alex Kirby

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Students in the UK have a key role to play in the campaign to stop universities investing in fossil fuels. Image: Paul Chapman via Wikimedia Commons

As international pressure mounts to stop investment in further fossil fuel exploitation, the UK’s higher education sector is being urged by campaign groups to aim for fossil-free universities

Campaign groups in the UK say the fossil fuel industry is too deeply entwined financially with British universities and urge them to disinvest within the next five years.

The groups have published a report, Knowledge and Power – Fossil Fuel Universities, in which they accuse the universities of allowing the industry to hide behind a coating of greenwash.

It warns: “Universities offer their credibility for cash when they sign deals sponsoring staff positions, buildings, conferences and lectures with fossil fuel companies. These deals play a key role in shoring up the fossil fuel industry’s public image.”

The report, which calls on universities to phase out fossil fuel research and refocus their work towards climate solutions, says universities have an estimated £5.2 billion invested in the fossil fuel industry – £2,083 for every student in the UK.

“A small proportion of the wealth of university endowment funds is invested directly in the shares of oil and gas companies,” the report says. “A far greater proportion supports the industry by investments held in pensions, unit trusts, and other financial products.” [Read more →]

October 21, 2013   No Comments

Financial big guns aim at fossil fuels

 Kieran Cooke

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Burning issue: anthracite stockpiled at a coal processing plant in Pennsylvania, USA. Image: Fabartus via Wikimedia Commons

Heavyweights of world finance have fired warning shots at the fossil fuel industry by calling for cutbacks in its subsidies, and by stressing that sustainable energy and tackling the causes of climate change are their key priorities

The multi-billion-dollar global fossil fuel industry might be getting just a little bit worried.

In recent days, some of the biggest guns in the world of finance have all had the industry in their sights, calling for a cut back on fossil fuel subsidies and the fast-tracking of carbon trading schemes, or for the wider application of taxes on carbon.

Jim Yong Kim, head of the World Bank, and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), held a joint news conference in which they stressed that climate change must be the main priority of both institutions.

“It is important that our two institutions always have climate change, environmental issues and price setting at the forefront of our agenda,” Lagarde said. “We have got to think about it every day.”

Establishing a proper price for carbon and removing energy subsidies were the IMF’s priorities, Lagarde said.  “If you do it the right way, you can put subsidies where they are needed.”

Jim Yong Kim said the priorities for the World Bank were to invest in sustainable energy for all, well-designed cities, and what he called smart agriculture. He said cutting fossil fuel subsidies was often “politically difficult”, but there were encouraging signs around the world from the implementation of carbon taxes. [Read more →]

October 11, 2013   No Comments

Bubble may burst for fossil fuel giants

Kieran Cooke

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Tufts University students take part in a US-wide campus protest against the use of fossil fuels. Image: James Ennis via Wikimedia Commons

The giant corporations powering the fossil fuel industry are warned that they face a damaging backlash if they try to resist the mounting pressures of climate change legislation and high-profile campaigning.

The financial and economic muscle of the global fossil fuel industry’s corporate behemoths will not protect them from the costly effects of negative stigmatisation if they ignore climate change pressures, according to a new academic study.

The influence wielded on world stock markets by such corporations is enormous, with oil and gas companies alone making up about 20% of the value of the London financial index and about 11% of that in New York.

However, if any meaningful action is to be taken on climate change in the years ahead, the activities of the fossil fuel industry will have to be severely curtailed and the bulk of assets frozen, inevitably leading to a sharp decrease in corporate valuations – what some analysts refer to as a bursting of the “carbon bubble”.

Not only are such corporations coming under increasing pressure from regulators and from climate legislation limiting CO² emissions, but a high-profile campaign is also under way to persuade investors to withdraw from companies involved with the fossil fuel industry.

According to the new study by academics at theSmith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, the fossil fuel companies cannot afford to ignore such campaigns. If they do, they will – at the very least – risk severe damage to their reputation, but they could also face increasing problems raising finance for their work. [Read more →]

October 8, 2013   No Comments