Divesting for the climate

Economists to investors: stop financing new fossil fuel infrastructure

Open letter issued on eve of climate summit in France marking two years since the Paris Agreement
Photo: Takver

Two years after the UN summit that resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement, the French capital is again playing host to an international climate meeting. Ahead of the Dec. 12 meeting in Paris hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, economists from around the world, including former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, have issued the following open letter to world leaders.

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We the undersigned, call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.

We are issuing this call to action in the lead up to the climate summit hosted by President Macron in Paris this December. President Macron and other world leaders, have already spoken out about the need for an increase in finance for climate solutions, but they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production and infrastructure.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits.

Ongoing global climate change and environmental destructions are happening at an unprecedented scale, and it will take unprecedented actions to limit the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas.

Equally as critical as drastically curbing the carbon intensity of our economic systems is the need for immediate and ambitious actions to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits. Thus, not only are new exploration and new production incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC (and as close to 1.5ºC as possible), but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline. Simply put: there is no more room for new fossil fuel infrastructure and therefore no case for ongoing investment.

Global investor and international development actors and institutions must recognize that continued investments in fossil fuel production supply-side is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action.

It is time for the community of global economic actors to fully embrace, safe, and renewable energies and phase out fossil fuels. This letter affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of public and private investors and development institutions to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development.

A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway and we recognize that a full transition away from fossil fuels is an opportunity for a new economic paradigm of prosperity and equity. Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable countries and communities.

Energy access and demand can and must now be met fully through the renewable energies of the 21st century. Assertions that new fossil fuels, such the current push for gas, are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of renewable energy.

The global investment community has the power to create the conditions under which this shift is possible. Current and future investments in fossil fuel production are at odds with a safe and equitable transition away from ever stronger climate disasters.

Global investor and international development actors and institutions must recognize that continued investments in fossil fuel production supply-side is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action. Instead, let us all prioritize the tremendous investment opportunities for a 100 per cent renewable future that support healthy economies while protecting workers, communities, and the ecological limits of a finite planet.

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