The Simon Kerr Perspective 

Disinvestment from Fossil Fuels

Its a big movement


1.5 degree limit


What you can do?


How green is your bank?


Changing banks


Is your superannuation fossil free?

A couple of useful links

The Disinvestment from Fossil Fuels movement is one of the best ways to be personally proactive as well as sending a strong signal to energy markets that digging up and burning more fossil fuels in no longer acceptable.


This movement is powerful and is changing the game in international investment. Currently about $2.6 trillion dollars has been pulled out of fossil fuel investments international. The World Bank will no longer fund coal projects because of the health and environmental risks to the poor. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney recently has warned investors that the ‘vast majority of reserves are unburnable’. Investors are being warned about ‘stranded investment’ as the world moves much more seriously to phasing out fossil fuels. See http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/ for more information on who is divesting.

Why not to dig up and burn any more fossil fuels?


There is a simple equation that the science community has figured out. It starts with the idea that we must limit the warming of the planet to well under 2 degree Celsius (measured against the pre-industrial average global temperature). 


This is now widely accepted as the goal, though recent scientific analysis suggest that even 2 degrees is too much, and thus a knew aspirational target of 1.5 degrees was agreed at the 2015 Paris meeting of the Conference of Parties, the global forum for tackling climate change.   


If the world’s climate system exceeds even 1.5 degrees there is a significant risk it will lead to ‘runaway global warming’, making the world as we know it unrecognisable. 


The world has just reached the 1 C mark. We are currently on track for temperatures well beyond 2 C.

Leave them in the ground

So most of the remaining fossil fuels must remain in the ground. Burning them will automatically destroy any hope of a viable planet for future generations.


To ensure we do not exceed our remaining ‘carbon budget’ (the amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere without exceeding 2 C), 82% of global coal reserves must remain in the ground.


That is, of the known coal reserves in the world, most cannot be dug up!


Therefore we need to fast track to renewable energy systems (wind, solar, tidal, smart hydro...) and disinvest from fossil fuels.

How can you do it?

It is not as hard as it may seem. Even if you have no savings or mortgage, just a bank account, or debit card, email the bank or financial organisation and ask them whether they invest in fossil fuels. I did this (to NAB) and they told me they couldn’t tell me, for privacy reasons, where they invest. They did tell me how much they invest in renewables. Fair enough, but the point was that I did not want any of my money invested in coal, oil, gas or other fossil fuel investments. So I said:


Thank you, but without clear reassurance, I need move to an institution that will not fund coal, oil or gas’.

And so I did (took a few months to get everything set up, but slowly and surely it happened). It can take a little time with a mortgage, but some information below will be helpful.


Remember: this is not so much about how much money you have but rather the clear signal it sends to the financial investment world!

How does your bank stack up?


Here is a really useful link that gives a guide into how banks and financial institutions in Australia stack on the disinvestment front. http://www.marketforces.org.au/banks/compare

Not sure how to change banks?


This link will be helpful. You can download a document on How to Switch Banks and Make it Count?

To check your superannuation, go here: http://superswitch.org.au/

Useful Links


The Guardian Newspaper in the UK has run a wonderful campaign called ‘Keep it in the Ground’. They have a large amount of easy to read information and reports on the disinvestment movement, and climate change more generally, so well worth browsing sometime.This is more about the 'Why do it' question.


Market Forces are a wealth of information about disinvestment in the Australian context.They are more about the 'How to do it' question.

If you have already divested, congratulations and keep up the great work for a better world!