The pestiférés

Will the oil tankers let go by their investors, will the black bubble burst?


A strange scene is being repeated at the moment, in different parts of the world. It takes place in the skyscrapers of business districts, on the top floors of glass towers, or in the quiet and discreet clubs of Wall Street or the City. Scenes worthy of the blackest Shakespearean tragedies or the most cynical television series. Powerful men, armed with power, the power of money, are carrying out an operation that even the most zealous ecologists would not have dared to imagine: they are withdrawing their investments from the fossil industry - by the billions, by the hundreds of billions. It is a titanic clash of economic interests that is taking place. A tragedy with far-reaching consequences not only for world finance but also for the chances of humanity to preserve a liveable climate.

They've suspected it for a few years. They were afraid that the sky would fall on their heads. They knew there would come a time when their lies about the damage they were doing to the planet could no longer be kept quiet. They knew that they would soon become the plague of the world; the ones by whom the climate had been rocked.

They may weigh thousands of billions of dollars, they may have a colossal power - they were said to be the kings of oil - but they may hold the reins of the world economy, they may make and break governments, they may provoke wars and geopolitical rebalancing, but despite this superpower, they will fall. Those who are bringing them down are the very people whose breasts they suckled from, who encouraged their juicy expansion: their investors, their bankers.

Jaws to their empire

Every day brings a new jaw-slap to their empire. Just a week ago, on February 3rd, Goldman Sachs, the world's second largest investment bank, asked its clients to " sell "the shares of ExxonMobil, which not so long ago was the company world's largest. ExxonMobil has lost 41 % of its value over the past six years, and Goldman expects even more turbulence, warning that the oil giant may not be able to sell all the fossil fuels it has under development.

On January 14, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, delivered the same murderous verdict for the entire fossil fuel industry. « Climate change has become a critical factor in the long-term prospects of companies ... [and] is forcing investors to reassess the fundamental assumptions of modern finance ", wrote Laurence D. Fink, founder and CEO of BlackRock, in his annual letter to business leaders around the world. With $7 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock is calling for " a fundamental overhaul of finance "which will have to take into account climate risks that have become investment risks. The leading asset manager will turn away from the shares of fossil fuel companies, Fink added, and instead encourage virtuous companies, whose activities contribute to preparing a future where the world could effectively meet the Paris agreement's goal of limiting global warming "well below" 2°C.

A few days later, on January 31, the oil giants were shot and stabbed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, live on television. It was Jim Cramer, long one of the greatest defenders of American capitalism, who dealt the final blow. He produces a show, " Mad Money This is the first time that a "CNBC" broadcast has been made available on CNBC, which is running in a loop on the flat screens in the meeting rooms of all investment companies. It ad...suddenly, he had some." finished with fossil fuels ». Big oil and gas companies like Chevron and BP are still quite profitable in the short term, he says, but their "knell" has sounded because young investors "just don't want" to own such environmentally unsustainable companies. In a final twist, Cramer compares the oil giants to the tobacco giants, predicting a massive exodus of fossil fuel stocks: "We're going to see a massive exodus of fossil fuel stocks," he says. It'll be a parade ... we'll say: 'Look, these are tobaccos, and we're not going to keep them... ".

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Jim Cramer is a loudmouth who does not always get unanimous support from his financial or media colleagues. His outspokenness is well known, but in this case, what he says is insipidly lukewarm compared to what the Bank of England is saying.

Carbon Bubble

The venerable British institution warns of a "carbon bubble" that could bankrupt investors and destabilize the global economy, as the financial crisis of 2008 did. The bubble comes from the vast reserves of fossil fuels that currently constitute a wealth in oil company balance sheets and stock market valuations, but which cannot be burned without raising global temperatures well above 2°C. The Bank is therefore announcing its intention to conduct a series of 'bubble tests' during the course of this year. stress tests The "stress tests" require Britain's largest private banks and insurance companies to demonstrate that they can remain viable if these fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground and the wealth they represent evaporates as a result.

The tankers are dropped and the movement is stained with oil. Financiers are joining the discourse of activists, scientists, elected officials, who are demanding with increasing vigour that fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground. What the oil companies are accused of is their lies. They have lied for decades about the risks associated with fossil fuels. Jeremy Grantham, a legendary investor and billionaire who predicted the financial crisis of 2008 and the technology bubble before that, does not expect a reversal of this trend. « The energy companies knew that oil was a dangerous commodity, and they covered it up... ", he said. said at Bloomberg Green. « It will take us some time, but they have to become outcasts ".

Organized Lies

It has been known for some years now that oil tankers have contributed to the release of hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. All of them have known the scope and consequences of their actions for at least five decades. None of them have backed down. On the contrary, even today they are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying to buy the complicity of politicians and to buy themselves the right to massacre the planet.

For five decades, large companies and industrial groups have been aware and have deliberately ignored the threat to climate change posed by the continued use of their products. For example, in November 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson issued a report prepared by the Chair's Scientific Advisory Committee Expert Group on Environmental Pollution, which clearly outlined the likely impact of continued fossil fuel production on global warming.

That same year, the president of the American Petroleum Institute said at its annual meeting: " One of the most important predictions in the [President's Report] is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth's atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000, the heat balance will be altered to the point where significant climate change will occur. "

A few years later, in 1982, Exxon predicted that by 2090, CO2 levels would have doubled compared to the first years of the 19th century, and that this would lead, according to the scientific knowledge available at the time, to an increase of about 3° Celsius in average global temperatures.

The oil companies were well aware of the risks they posed to the planet and to humanity. But with masterful cynicism, they constructed a line of discourse that will never change until today. Indeed, refusing to take any responsibility, the oil, gas and coal companies claim that it is up to States and consumers to bear the "main burden" of the fight against climate change, and not to the energy industry. Moreover, oil, gas and coal companies have been relentless in their campaigns to denigrate climate research and use their full weight to reverse clean energy policies.

Oil companies are reprehensible. But before a court of law one day judges them, they will probably be judged first by their deal. That's what's happening right now. It's what Jeremy Rikfin predicted in his book... The Global Green New Deal. He predicted: " According to studies by banking and financial groups, thousands of billions of dollars of fossil fuels are becoming locked-in assets that will become obsolete before reaching the end of their life cycle. They can never be amortized. At the moment we are talking about a gigantic, historic financial bubble, $100 trillion according to Citigroup, $40 trillion according to The Economist. It is expected to burst by 2028. "

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Guilty denial

The "oil lords" do not always understand the change and the reversal of fortune that befalls them. They have built real empires on black gold, they have been kingmakers and have profoundly shaped world geopolitics. « It's hard for these fossil lords to think of themselves as bad when they have shaped progress. Above all, there's the will not to let go of the rent that made them so rich and powerful. "analyses Geneviève Férone in an interview at UP' Magazine. She adds, " Yet you want to tell them "live with your time". » ! »

Faced with what looks like a form of denial, it is the major players in global finance who are positioning themselves to accelerate the changeover of the oil industry. The ears of investors can hear the sirens of environmental advocates and those who want to put an end to fossil civilization. They are therefore putting themselves in a radical reaction. Not out of altruism, but for reasons related to the displacement of rent and economic interests.

Financiers and investment companies are making a cultural revolution and say that investing in fossil fuels is detrimental to future returns.

They're pulling the rug out and the fall will be brutal.

Oil tankers have survived many crises in their history. They have always survived by using the weapons their power gave them: money, lobbying campaigns, manoeuvres, lies and misinformation. This time the threat to them could be fatal. On the other hand, it would be a chance for us to preserve a liveable climate.  

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