Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Divestment and Investment

If you're not sure about whether divestment is a good, idea, I think you might find Fossil Free Cambridgeshire's briefing note makes a good case. The main arguments are:
  • Climate change is a serious threat to our wellbeing, and to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst we need to leave 2/3 of our reserves in the ground.
  • Choosing to finance the fossil fuel industry increases this threat.
  • Assuming we do leave 2/3 of our fossil fuel reserves in the ground, investing in the industry is pretty risky anyway.
  • Investing in renewables instead is a good way to boost the local economy.
  • Increasing numbers of reputable organisations are divesting and it may be bad for your reputation if you don't.
  • Divesting is perfectly compatible with fiduciary duty, at least according to the Law Society: Trustees may take account of any financial factor which is relevant to the performance of an investment. These include risks to a company’s long-term sustainability, such as environmental, social or governance factors (often referred to as “ESG” factors)...
I strongly recommend you read the full briefing note. It isn't very long. Also, they have a petition going to ask our councils (Cambridgeshire County Council and all the district councils including Cambridge City Council) to divest. Unfortunately, the petition also talks about ethical investment policies but I have signed it anyway. It is not that I am against having an ethical investment policy but they are a bit of a minefield in terms of definition and so it will be much harder for the council to comply with our wishes if we include that as well. In fact the draft motion asks for an energy descent plan too - again a laudable aim but rather ambitious for a first step.

But as I said, I have signed the petition anyway and I encourage you to do the same - you will find it here.

On the investment side, it seems that the UK is a world leader in crowd funding for renewable energy projects and Trillion Fund is the biggest single platform, having raised more than €100 million so far.  I found this from a map provided by the Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Conference. How long this will continue, with so much support being withdrawn by this government, we shall see. Trillion Fund have just announced that they can no longer offer renewable energy loans in the current policy climate.

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