Prince Charles Urges Investors to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The heir to the British throne, speaking to a gathering of some of the world’s leading investors controlling billions of dollars’ worth of funds, said it’s vital that finance markets send a strong signal to politicians about the need for a global agreement on climate change.
Prince Charles said global warming is an increasing source of risk to the financial community, and investing in projects that will help the world stay within a 2˚C rise in temperatures over pre-industrial levels need not hurt investment returns.
“All investors must decide whether they are future-takers or future-makers,” he said.
Prince Charles urges divestment, especially for non profits, charities https://t.co/pyMAbHwFI5— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1446092251.0
Successive speakers at the meeting, held in the ornate surroundings of the City of London’s Guildhall, said that investors had to realize that a fundamental shift is taking place in the global economy—away from fossil fuel-led growth and towards a less carbon intensive, more sustainable future.
Investors were told they ignored this shift at their peril. By continuing to put money into fossil fuels, fund managers were placing their clients’ money at risk. Oil firms, even before the drop in oil prices, were delivering diminishing cash returns.
“We collectively sleep-walked into a global financial crisis,” said one investment fund manager. “We have no excuse for sleeping our way into a climate change crisis.”
Sarah Butler-Sloss, a co-founder of Europeans for Divest/Invest, a campaign that encourages individual investors, philanthropic organisations and pension funds to divest from fossil fuels, said that more than US$2.5 trillion of financial assets had so far been moved out of fossil fuels into renewables and other sectors.
The divestment campaign is expanding fast and enjoying a huge groundswell of grass roots support, Butler-Sloss said. “There will only be one eventual winner in this contest.”
Many universities, religious groups and other institutions have been among thosemoving their money out of fossil fuels.
In 2013. Norway, which has one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, announced it was taking its investments out of heavily carbonised sectors.
James Cameron, chairman of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, and a leading figure in encouraging investments in low-carbon industries, said few had anticipated the pace of change away from fossil fuels in recent years, highlighting what he described as the phenomenal growth in renewable energy.
There are great investment opportunities, Cameron said. “This is not some kind of green sand pit for investors to play around in. This [decarbonised economy] is a huge investment space.”
Although the assembled investment community seemed receptive to reconsidering their investment strategies, there were those who questioned the relative scale of the divestment campaign and speed of the shift to a decarbonised economy.
The London stock exchange, one of the world’s biggest share markets, is still dominated by fossil fuel-related stocks, which account for 30 percent of the total value of the main index.
Some fund managers expressed concern about what they saw as a lack of investment products in the low carbon sector. Others said there was still not enough expertise about renewables and other decarbonised projects among firms managing investment funds.
“The fossil fuel companies have immense financial power and the lobbyists that support them are still very strong,” said one of those at the meeting.
“Big changes in the direction of investments are taking place, but it’s the pace of change that’s the important thing.
“And when you talk about the challenge of climate change, time is not on the world’s side.”
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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