A good time to divest from fossil fuels?

An interesting discussion on the question of divestment has been going on on the Cambridge 38 Degrees site (you may need to join to read).

As I recently connected with the CapGlobalCarbon organisers, who advocate a system of capping fossil fuel production at the source, charging a fee for production, and distributing the profits globally, I received this comment from Dr David Knight, an organiser for CapGlobalCarbon, who agreed to my posting it as a guest blog here.

The implications of Brent Crude at $43.6 for the Climate Movement

The  price of Brent crude has fallen to its lowest level  in the recession that followed the Credit Crunch, while the FSTE 350 Oil and Gas producers share Index has dropped about 25% in a year. These trends are already having a serious impact on the fossil fuel (and other extractive)  industries, making investment in them increasingly risky.

The risk is compounded because:

shifts in market sentiment induced by awareness of …climate risks could lead to economic shocks and losses of up to 45% ...on equity investment portfolios… . [Much of these losses are unhedgeable]
— http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/publications/sustainable-finance-publications/unhedgeable-risk

The already shaky economic system may be close to collapse.

There are several important implications for the Climate Movement:

1.      Low oil and gas prices reduce the impact on consumers of measures such as Cap & Dividend and carbon price mechanisms that increase the cost of fossil fuels. This makes the present a good time to introduce these measures.

2.      The increasing riskiness of fossil fuel investments provides a strong financial argument for divesting and re-investing  in renewables,  energy conservation and energy storage.

3.      It’s a good time to divest as it’s hitting the producers when they are down.

4.    The interactive global eco- and financial  systems are unstable and threatened with collapse.  Schemes such as CapGlobalCarbon’s Cap & Dividend together with Divestment/Reinvestment might just help to bring about a transition to a stable, equitable, and less extractive future.

Naomi Klein is likely to agree with much of this.

Dr David Knight,  CapGlobalCarbon http://www.capglobalcarbon.org/