De laatste tijd wordt door sommige milieugroeperingen campagne gevoerd om instituties, zoals pensioenfondsen, over te halen om hun aandelen en obligaties in de fossiele brandstoffenindustrie van de hand te doen. De belangrijkste reden is dat het gebruik van fossiele brandstoffen door de daarmee gepaard gaande uitstoot van CO2 tot een opwarming van de aarde zou leiden. Tot dusver heeft deze campagne echter betrekkelijk weinig effect gehad.
Onder de titel, ‘This demonising of fossil fuels is madness’, schreef Matt Ridley in ‘The Times’
Our lives are vastly improved by oil and coal but this is wilfully ignored by those pressing for institutions to disinvest
Divestment won’t work, is unethical, hypocritical, aimed at the wrong target and based on flawed premises.
Institutions and pension funds are under pressure to dump their investments in fossil-fuel companies. The divestment movement began in America, jumped the Atlantic and has become the cause célèbre of the retiring editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger. The idea is that if we do not “leave it in the ground”, the burning of all that carbon will fry the climate.
Some are resisting: the Wellcome Trust has politely declined to divest, saying it thinks it is better to keep the shares so it can lean on company executives to decarbonise; the University of Edinburgh unexpectedly voted last week not to divest, using a similar argument; and Boris Johnson has just rejected a motion by the London Assembly to divest its pension funds of fossil-fuel shares. The Church of England has cunningly confined its divestment to “thermal coal” and Canadian oil sands companies, getting good publicity but not having to sell many shares.
Of course, divestment represents an admission that fossil fuels are not going to run out, as was commonly believed until the shale bonanza began. …
It’s all mad. Divestment won’t work, is unethical, hypocritical, aimed at the wrong target and based on flawed premises.
First, there is a buyer for every seller. ….
Second, if the world went cold turkey on fossil fuels the people who would suffer most would be the poor. Divestment is not an ethical thing to do; it’s a harsh, cold-hearted decision. It says: sorry, poor people (and rainforests), we have to make you suffer today so that our great grandchildren can be safe from a risk of rising sea levels in the event that no other energy technology comes along.
Third, it is hypocritical because the divesters continue to use electric light and gas heating, and to travel by car and plane. That’s because there is no alternative to fossil fuels on the scale we use them. …
Fourth, the campaign will have little effect on the oil industry. Exxon is the 11th biggest oil company in the world in terms of reserves; Shell 19th and BP 20th. All but one (Lukoil) of the rest of the top 20 belong to governments: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and so on. These regimes will pay no attention to students occupying senior common rooms in London. …
Finally, the whole argument is based on a flawed premise. The divesters argue that if we are to have a decent chance of limiting any temperature rise to 2 C from pre-industrial levels, then we must burn less carbon in the future than we have burnt in the past two centuries. … Note that they are therefore assuming a rapid acceleration of the rate of warming, whereas in fact it has slowed down in the past two decades. That’s one flaw.
A bigger one is this. The IPCC models assume high sensitivity of the climate to carbon dioxide. With a more realistic estimate of climate sensitivity taken from a raft of recent high-quality, observation based studies, and still assuming fossil fuel burning at 10gtc a year, we would probably not hit the 2 C threshold for more than 100 years (which is bang in line with the rate of warming over the past 60 years).
Aldus Matt Ridley.
Lees verder hier.
Voor mijn eerdere DDS–bijdragen zie hier.