Published: 01/06/2014

The recent traction helping this issue gain ground warrants a further update on the theme of Fossil Fuel Divestment for this Ethical Spotlight.

Today we can trace a thread back along the ethical investment web to the anti apartheid boycotts in the seventies, sweat shop labour action in the eighties and environmental campaigns of the nineties. These campaigns reflect a time when concern about these issues reached a tipping point into a revised world view. When it was no longer excusable to maintain a blinkered approach to the world in which we live, an imperative was born to strive for effective positive change in these areas. Is it possible then that in 30 years time, when we have managed our transition into a cleaner, greener world, that those threads will be traced back to the current decade as another game changing era? And will 2014 be the year when the seeds finally germinated against proponents of a fossil fuel led economy?

Fossil Fuels are not the cheap option they are claimed to be. They cost money to clean up in terms of human health impacts and the environment. If these externalities were properly accounted for the renewable industry would be way ahead from a cost comparison as well as creating jobs and reducing carbon.

Any fundamental shifts in society require leaders and subsequent followers. The leadership has been demonstrated by many. Too many to mention here but think visionary individuals like Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Bob Brown and environmental groups like and Beyond Zero Emissions. It’s when the followers start jumping on board that the swell of change creates a true possibility that the vision can become a reality.

As investors in fossil fuel assets – eg banks, individual shareholders and superfunds – start to question the true viability of the value of this investment asset, many large institutions are now making that call and announcing a divestment from fossil fuels. Having been presented with evidence, financial institutions and superfunds around the world are divesting from fossil fuels based on new risk assessment analysis.

We are in refreshing times where environmentalism and finance are coming together to create a perfect storm against fossil fuel expansion –perhaps a game changing mechanism to start its demise. This is in contrast to a back drop where citizens concerned about the future of the planet fight against government policies which put the economy before the environment. Whilst a visionary outcome of a fossil free world may at times seem unattainable, this recent traction is gathering momentum and anyone sitting on the side lines can step up for maximum impact.

Coal proponents continue to spruik their product by trying to instil fear in us that we cannot be comfortable, well lit or keep warm without them (you only need to pick up a copy of the latest Renew magazine to see that this is not the case). Those in this camp will probably never be willing followers but climate science will have the final say and they are likely to find themselves being dragged kicking and screaming out of their coal fired dens.

Pursue your values, build your wealth and help make the world a better place.