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World-renowned economists call for not investing one euro more in fossil fuels

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Ahead of the international Finance and Climate summit convened by Emmanuel Macron, more than 80 world-renowned economists from 20 different countries have published an declaration calling for a total halt to financial flows to fossil fuel production and infrastructure and a massive increase in investment in renewable energies. An initiative of a coalition of NGOs (1)including 350.org, 
 
An 12 December, two years to the day after the signing of the Paris climate agreement, Emmanuel Macron will preside over the One Planet Summit focused on mobilizing finance for climate. Despite commitments made two years ago, governments and public and private financial institutions unfortunately continue to invest in fossil fuels. Yet these projects are damaging the planet, its people and the economy.
 
"It's time for European leaders, and in particular President Macron, who understands the threat to our planet from Donald Trump's climate denial, to end the subsidies and investments that maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.said Yanis Varoufakis, a Greek economist, academic and politician. Not a single euro more should be given to coal, oil and gas. »
 
This statement follows the warning issued by more than 15,000 scientists from around the world who argue that urgent action is needed to save our planet. Economists have realised that the time has come to take responsibility and use their influence to serve this call from the scientific community.
 
 
"International economic actors must redouble their efforts without delay to save the planet and preserve our common future. In our statement we explain that public and private investors and development institutions have an immediate responsibility and moral obligation to take the lead in the fight against fossil fuels, in favour of safe and renewable energies", said Pierre-Richard Agénor, Professor of International Macroeconomics and Development Economics at the University of Manchester.
 
Studies show that the carbon emissions inherent in current fossil fuel production will cause catastrophic climate change. New exploration and production projects are of course incompatible with keeping warming well below +2°C (and as close as possible to +1.5°C), but it will also be necessary to dismantle many existing projects before the end of their planned operating period. In short: there is no more room for new fossil fuel infrastructure and further investment in the sector is therefore unjustified.
 
"In addition to policy changes such as the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, a massive increase in funding for renewable energy solutions is needed to ensure a rapid decline in carbon emissions by 2025, said Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, Co-Director of the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University.
 
Continued investment in fossil fuels is not only damaging the environment, it is also damaging our economy. Earlier this year, the IEA estimated that the implementation of new climate policies and the adoption of renewable energies could lead to the overvaluation of 1000 billion $ of oil assets and 300 billion $ of gas assets in total.
 
These "locked-in assets", among other financial risks related to climate change, are one of the reasons why many far-sighted investors are already getting rid of their coal, oil and gas assets. The fossil fuel divestment movement, which was initially limited to a handful of university campuses, now includes investment funds managing more than 5570 billion $ of assets.
 
As Tim Jackson, a professor at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, said: "If our leaders are still reluctant to fully support economically profitable green investments, I want to remind them that they can count on enormous popular support. Let's invest public money in a sustainable future, instead of spending it on dirty and useless fossil fuels. » 
 
Divestment stigmatises fossil fuels in the eyes of the general public and restricts the financial resources that fuel this global environmental crisis. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, whose fortune is derived from oil drilling, has given a boost to the divestment cause by announcing last month that it intends to divest its oil and gas assets.
 
Regardless of the methods used to make the transition, international economic impacts should be taken into account. Money from one part of the world often finances infrastructure built in other regions. It is therefore important to ensure that money taken away from the polluting fossil fuel industry is also used to develop clean energy solutions in countries in the South.
 
"We must ensure that this disinvestment is a powerful demonstration of solidarity and justice for the most vulnerable people, as well as a defence of nature and our planet. The future must focus on reinvesting in the communities most affected by polluting energies and climate change. This is the best way to ensure a more promising future for people and the planet", said Dr. Simplice Asongu, Chief Economist and Director of the African Governance and Development Institute.
 
Economists are optimistic that 2018 will see an accelerated shift away from fossil fuels and towards 100 % renewable energy for all. In its latest report World Energy Outlook". published last November, the International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, renewable energy will capture two-thirds of global investment in power plants.
 
Developing countries are realizing that renewable energy offers a faster, cheaper and more sustainable way to bring energy to millions of people for the first time. Fossil fuels are in agony; 100 % renewable energy for all is inevitable.
 
"The international transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy represents one of the greatest economic opportunities in human history, but it will not be enough to save our climate if we procrastinate by continuing to invest in fossil fuels, concluded Professor Robert Costanza, Vice-Chancellor of the Department of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy (Australian National University).
 
 
(1)  350.org, Alternatiba, Friends of the Earth France, ANV-COP21, Attac France, Bizi! the Confédération paysanne, Coordination Eau Bien Commun France, Coordination Eau Bien Commun Ile de France, CRID, France Nature Environnement, Notre Affaire à Tous, Greenpeace France, Fondation pour la Nature et l'Homme, Oxfam France, REFEDD, Réseau Action Climat France, Réseau sortir du nucléaire, Sciences Po Zéro Fossile, Union Syndicale Solidaires.
To go further :
 
- Report "French banks: when the green turns to black".by Oxfam Franc and Friends of the Earth, 2015
 
Illustration  ©uwimprint.ca
 

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