London, UK — As people around the world hosted hundreds of rallies for the first ever Global Divestment Day, political leaders in the United Kingdom made an announcement that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry.
Together, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition pledged to work across party lines to end the use of “unabated coal for power generation,” agree on domestic carbon budgets, and work towards a climate agreement that limits global temperature rise to below 2°C.
The announcement is welcome news for the growing fossil fuel divestment movement, however activists are insistent that clear timelines must accompany the pledge.
“By committing to phase out coal, the UK is sending a powerful signal to investors the world over: the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end and investing in these companies is seen as increasingly unsound,” said Danni Paffard UK Divestment Campaigner at 350.org. “This is a welcome Valentine for everyone in the fossil fuel divestment movement. The government should get to work right away making this pledge a reality.”
Today’s news is just the latest in a string of developments that signal that the age of coal is coming to an end. The UK’s announcement follows Denmark’s pledge from November to phase out coal by 2025 and new research by University College London that 89 percent of Europe’s coal is unburnable to stay below 2°C global warming. Earlier this month, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund–the largest in the world–dumped dozens of coal stocks because of concerns about their financial and climate risk.
“This announcement is the latest sign that we’re witnessing the end of coal, while communities around the world are standing up to the coal, oil and gas industry,” said Emma Biermann, 350.org European Organiser. “Thousands have taken action over the weekend to increase the pressure on institutions to divest from fossil fuels — and they won’t stop here. The global climate movement is rising to demand what scientists tell us: 80% of the fossil fuel industry’s reserves need to stay underground. That work must start today.”