Keeping 80% of fossil fuels underground while meeting growing global energy needs will involve investment in and deployment of renewable energy technologies at an unprecedented scale. Solutions to climate change exist, we just need to build the political will for action.
- Projects such as Zero Carbon Britain and The Energy Report:100% renewable by 2050 demonstrate how we could power ourselves with 100% renewable energy
- A recent report from the World Bank titled ‘3 Steps to Decarbonizing Development for a Zero-Carbon Future’ argues for ending subsidies for fossil fuels and instead investing in renewable energy
- Developed countries are currently subsidising oil, gas and coal companies by $88 billion a year to find more fossil fuels, which is almost double what is needed to provide cheap, renewable energy for all by 2030.
- Global renewable energy is booming, with more capacity for renewable power added each year (since 2013) than coal, natural gas, and oil combined
- Studies show that the public are generally pro renewables and support action on climate change:
- A recent study from Cardiff University found 74% of people “supported the UK signing up to international agreements to limit carbon emissions.
- In Germany, 47% of renewable energy infrastructure is citizen or co-operatively owned; in sub-Saharan Africa, local off-grid renewable energy will be essential for providing energy access to many rural populations in line with the UN goal of universal energy access by 2030
Re-investment into green energy or socially responsible projects helps us tell a positive story about the world we want to see, and the role investors can play in supporting it, as well as directing capital in the right direction. While the ‘re-investment’ narrative isn’t as clear cut as the divestment exclusions, and may vary at a local level, there are some existing examples:
- Lancashire County Council invested £12 million in Westmill Solar Coop, the UK’s largest community owned solar farm
- The £14.4bn Strathclyde Pension Fund has recently committed £10m to community power projects backed by the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). Albion Community Power (ACP) will manage the capital with first investments earmarked for a hydro-electric power station in Western Scotland.
- The pension for the Borough of Islington in London is planning to put £150 million – 15% of its pension pot – into social housing. A Treasury-commissioned study published in February 2015 argued that local authorities could invest £5 billion to create a ‘substantial increase in new homes nationally’.
- UNISON Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations proposed using local government pension funds to build new social and affordable housing in Scotland.
- Two of the US’s largest pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have already allocated $1.1 billion into energy efficient infrastructure projects with commitments from the American Federation of Teachers, AFLCIO, and Clinton Global Initiative to collectively invest $10 billion in the clean energy economy
- Projects such as “Reinvest in Our Power” in the states are popping up to link divestment with ‘building the new [socio-]economic infrastructure needed to transition out of the extractive economy in a way that builds political power’
The Divest-Invest movement from the philanthropic sector has championed the idea of positive reinvestment of divested funds to fuel the transition. Community Reinvest has more examples of local governments investing in local projects.