Divestment and positive investment seem like a win-win for everyone. Switching your money from damaging fossil fuels to clean renewables helps tackle climate change, gives control back to the local community, and offers a financial return for investors.
We caught up with Nikki Jones, a researcher, writer and journalist on oil, gas and energy to find out more about divestment.
Why should we divest?
For Nikki, there are two major aims of divesting:
“To limit the funds for fossil fuel companies which are reliant on this investment; much exploration for fossil fuels is funded by the bond market and banks. The other is removing fossil fuel industries’ social licence to operate. This means removing their legitimacy, their confidence that they can invest without considering the environmental consequences.”
And with reports showing that we could already be perilously close to reaching the 1.5 degrees limit set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, divestment in damaging fossil fuels and a switch to renewables is essential.
“We should never forget the urgency of the debate. People need to be empowered to keep pressuring the government. It’s time for people power and to make our voices heard.
“The truth is in five, ten, twenty years, people will ask, ‘what did you do, when you knew about climate change?’ Are we really doing all we can?”
What has been achieved so far?
“£4bn has already been divested, but this is a small proportion of the trillions invested in fossil fuels. The coal industry is in decline with large firms such as Peabody Energy now bankrupt. Positive investment plays its part here turning the investor mood against coal. Pressure for divestment is adding to an extraordinary air of vulnerability around the oil and gas industry.”
What more needs to be done?
For Nikki, we need more social funds and positive investment. She suggests moving your money and shares through Ethex or Abundance, and in addition there is Mongoose Crowd, the platform our latest crowdfund is hosted on.
“It’s important to switch energy suppliers to 100% renewable. Consumers have a lot of power. We can cut our consumption of fossil fuels in other ways too. We need to reduce, reuse, recycle, shop at local, smaller companies and look out for green alternatives.
“Switching suppliers is not enough. In the long run, our goal is a more sustainable ‘circular’ economy. This means changing our attitude to throw-away stuff.”
How do you stay positive in the face of climate change?
With President Trump threat to remove the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and concerns over what Brexit means for environmental policy, it can be difficult to keep motivated. However Nikki is positive, and notes that in response there has been an upsurge in activism such as the Under 2 Degrees and partnerships between Germany and California to continue to tackle climate change.
“Although big companies seem hard to slay, we can take heart that things can change. Join campaigns such as Fossil Free and lobby against the big corporates. Make your voice heard. The Paris Agreement was a huge positive step towards an energy revolution. Decarbonisation is not happening fast enough. Our politicians and our corporate leaders need to feel more pressure.”
Finally there are the economic reasons that will help us challenge climate change, including the plummeting costs of solar. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar will be cheaper than coal and gas quicker than previously anticipated. It is estimated that solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the USA, and by 2021 will do so in markets such as China and India.
Why did Nikki decide to invest in BEC?
“It is important to invest in local renewables, and BEC is a grassroots coop so you know where your money is going. Investors have an input into how the coop is run, and can hold directors to account. BEC’s AGM is not as intimidating a setting as those of large financial institutions. It’s about thinking globally and acting locally.”
Bristol Energy Cooperative sponsored and filmed a series of Nikki’s engaging and insightful talks at the Salt Cafe in Bristol, in order to share her knowledge about climate change and the energy industries.
Note, that investing in a bond offer puts your capital is at risk. This means that you may lose some or all of the money that you invest. Read the full offer document, understand the risks and agree with the terms before investing. Find out more at Mongoose Crowd: https://www.mongoosecrowd.co.uk/investments