Divest from fossil fuels to turn down the heat

Dangerous climate change, scientists and a growing number of world leaders tell us, is being caused by the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels which releases polluting carbon emissions into the air – overheating and altering our fragile climate.

Scientists calculate that at least 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground in order for us to retain a ‘safe’, liveable climate (to stay under a maximum 2 degree global rise in temperature). Given the worsening climate indicators, many experts argue there is no ‘carbon budget’ left and only immediate decarbonisation can provide any chance of stability.

The UN’s Climate Chief has urged investors worldwide to pull their money out of fossil fuel investments to avoid catastrophic global warming. The Guardian newspaper has begun an international divestment campaign #keepitintheground to highlight the urgency required to prevent the worst.


The BBC UK reports: “Get your cash out of fossil fuel backed funds” and ‘Carbon bubble threatens stock markets say MPs. The World Bank chief calls for divestment from fossil fuels – urgent support is instead encouraged for renewable energy. Norway’s Government is divesting its $840 billion sovereign fund.

Your own superannuation nest egg may accidentally be helping to fund climate change, the impacts of which will affect us all in the years ahead. Unless you chose a 100% ethical fund, it’s likely some of your money may be invested in, and profiting from, climate pollution. Experts advise that a looming carbon bubble is predicted to turn such fossil fuel investments into stranded assets – so your super may be at risk.

See Climate Proofing Your Finances: Making Your Money Fossil-Free,  How to Avoid the Carbon Bubble, the report Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets and the World Energy Outlook Special Report 2013: Redrawing the Energy Climate Map. If you bank with any of Australia’s big four banks, your money is helping an institution which finances climate pollution as they loan millions to the coal, oil and gas industries.  ANZ is the biggest financier of fossil fuels, followed by the Commonwealth Bank. See details of the $18.9 million lent by the big four to fossil fuel production since 2008. A National Divestment Day is held annually.

New divestment website www.SuperSwitch.org.au has been launched by MarketForces and 350 Australia to help people go ethical.  It enables you to compare funds and email yours direct.  There’s also a new fossil-free super fund Future Super. You can also check out this practical guide on how to help turn down the heat by switching from polluting profits to socially responsible, ethical funds instead: Act now on climate emergency Divest from fossil fuels.


There are also useful divestment tools you can use online at: www.gofossilfree.org/australia and www.marketforces.org.au. Compare banks to see which loan to fossil fuel companies – you’ll notice that the Big 4 bankroll major Australian fossil fuel projects. The new fossil-free super fund can be seen at www.myfuturesuper.com.au. Also check out Australian Ethical, and the new Future Home Loans.  Bendigo Bank and several credit unions have also given assurances that they do not finance fossil fuel projects.

Hear more about why divestment is so important right now from US author Bill McKibben (Oil and Honey) who says: “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” 

Join the #keepitintheground campaign to fast-track international divestment via The Guardian.

ANU scientists discuss World Bank support for investors to divest from fossil fuels to prevent catastrophic climate change World Bank Report: Turn down the heat – why a 4 degree world must be avoided IMF Chief calls for fossil fuel subsidies and emissions to be cut to prevent “merciless” climate change;  China declares war on climate pollution, plans to shut down coal-fired furnaces Australia Institute Report: Climate-proofing your investments;  Investor Group on Climate Change calls for greater emissions cuts

Did you know that Australian taxpayers actually subsidise climate-polluting fossil fuels by $10 billion each year?  End fossil fuel subsidies – add your name to the MarketForces campaign to clean up Australia Which fossil fuel companies are more responsible for climate change? (Includes Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xstrata…) The whopping climate footprint of two Australian coalmining projects;  Australian politician Clive Palmer’s China First mine to add 40 million tonnes of carbon pollution a year;  Coal fire reignites brown coal debate  Australians divest from the Commonwealth Bank;  Go Fossil Free Australia;  Customers divest from the ANZ;  Perth customers divest from the Commonwealth Bank;  Customers’ divestment stories; Tracking the money – who are the biggest lenders to which fossil fuel? Relentless rise of CO2 levels, NASA online climate resources;  New IPCC climate report shows the consequences of inaction for Australia;  Doctors for divestment

Disclaimer – this information is not meant as individual financial advice – for specific financial advice contact a registered financial adviser (e.g. accredited ethical investment advisers like WA’s JustInvest). The author and distributors of this information accept no liability. ___________________________________________________________________________

Like 50 degrees? on Facebook for regular updates. Follow @TanyiaMaxted on Twitter and Instagram for #climatechange and #divest news and info. Based in Perth, Western Australia, Tanyia Maxted writes on the climate crisis, divestment from the fossil fuels causing climate change, and solutions such as solar-charged electric cars.  The mother-of-two previously worked in water science communication for an Australian Government-funded national research centre, and in science communication for two Perth universities. See archived articles for ScienceNetworkWA and her UK-published books via Amazon.

(Tanyia divested her own funds, moving from UniSuper to Australian Ethical Super after undergoing an ethical financial health check from an accredited ethical investment adviser.  She also divested from the Commonwealth Bank and moved to credit union CUA as the result of research into which lending institutions loan to fossil fuels.)