Tag Archives: divestment

American Muslims ditch fossil fuels

An influential group of American Muslims announces it is commited to end investment in fossil fuels and urges its partners to follow suit.

LONDON, 11 November, 2016 – As representatives of many of the world’s main religions join financial leaders in calling for a switch of investment from polluting energy to renewables, a prominent Islamic organisation says it will do just that, in a landmark divestment commitment from a Muslim institution.

The undertaking by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was announced at a side event at COP-22, the conference of the UN Convention on Climate Change, in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

The event brought together global faith leaders with financial institutions and foundations to urge sovereign wealth and pension funds with a collective worth put at more than US$19 trillion (£15tn) to make a rapid end of their investments in fossil fuels and to re-invest them in renewable energy, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement

“According to Islam’s most basic and fundamental teachings, human beings have been uniquely charged with the great responsibility of being guardians of the Earth,” Dr. Azhar Azeez, ISNA’s president, told the meeting.

Islamic pioneers

“It goes against the mission of ISNA to invest in fossil fuel companies whose operations and products cause such grave harm to humanity and to creation.”

The American Muslims’ undertaking is described by the event organisers as “the world’s first divestment announcement from a Muslim institution.” Other groups have already urged similar action without necessarily making a specific commitment: the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, for instance, is published by a UK-based group, IFEES-EcoIslam.

What impact ISNA’s action may have (it is an umbrella organisation, reported in 2008 to include 4,000 member groups) is unclear. Within North America it could conceivably help to discourage investment in fracking.

Whether it will spur debate in the oil-rich Gulf and Middle East states, or in the big fossil fuel producers like Russia and the countries of Central Asia, with their large Muslim populations, is also uncertain.

Improbable audience

ISNA made its announcement within hours of the end of the US presidential campaign, which dismayed many who saw the winner, Republican candidate Donald Trump, as a thuggish bully-boy. Despite his controversial campaign Trump’s entry to the White House was eased for him – perhaps achieved – by the votes of millions of evangelical Christians.

They – and Trump himself, denouncer of global warming as “a total and very expensive hoax” created by the Chinese – seem unlikely to listen to ISNA.

The faith leaders’ meeting, organised by GreenFaith and Divest Invest, which works to speed up the transition to a future of clean energy, released a statement whose signatories include the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and over 220 other faith leaders from around the globe. 

The statement aims to accelerate the move to a low-carbon future quickly enough to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Its supporters argue not only for a shift of public finances away from fossil fuels but for increased financing to end energy poverty with renewable energy, and to ensure that the transition protects human rights and vulnerable communities.

“We’re in a sustainable energy revolution and I believe it’s wiser to invest in the low-carbon technology of today and tomorrow, not the high-carbon technology of yesterday”

One speaker at the faith leaders’ meeting was Mark Sainsbury, chair of the Mark Leonard Trust, one of the Climate News Network’s funders. He said: “The Paris Agreement, new regulations and technological innovation will see fossil fuel companies lose value and market share to sustainable energy technologies.

“In fact, it’s happening already. We’re in a sustainable energy revolution and I believe it’s wiser to invest in the low-carbon technology of today and tomorrow, not the high-carbon technology of yesterday.”

Another, the Revd Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, said: “Religious and spiritual communities recognise that the Earth is a gift, and that it is our responsibility to protect it. In the face of the climate crisis, we are all required to act and to immediately shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.

“Faith communities are also united in their concern to care for the most vulnerable and are committed to bring distributed, clean power to the 1.1 billion people globally who lack access to electricity by 2030.” – Climate News Network

An influential group of American Muslims announces it is commited to end investment in fossil fuels and urges its partners to follow suit.

LONDON, 11 November, 2016 – As representatives of many of the world’s main religions join financial leaders in calling for a switch of investment from polluting energy to renewables, a prominent Islamic organisation says it will do just that, in a landmark divestment commitment from a Muslim institution.

The undertaking by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was announced at a side event at COP-22, the conference of the UN Convention on Climate Change, in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

The event brought together global faith leaders with financial institutions and foundations to urge sovereign wealth and pension funds with a collective worth put at more than US$19 trillion (£15tn) to make a rapid end of their investments in fossil fuels and to re-invest them in renewable energy, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement

“According to Islam’s most basic and fundamental teachings, human beings have been uniquely charged with the great responsibility of being guardians of the Earth,” Dr. Azhar Azeez, ISNA’s president, told the meeting.

Islamic pioneers

“It goes against the mission of ISNA to invest in fossil fuel companies whose operations and products cause such grave harm to humanity and to creation.”

The American Muslims’ undertaking is described by the event organisers as “the world’s first divestment announcement from a Muslim institution.” Other groups have already urged similar action without necessarily making a specific commitment: the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, for instance, is published by a UK-based group, IFEES-EcoIslam.

What impact ISNA’s action may have (it is an umbrella organisation, reported in 2008 to include 4,000 member groups) is unclear. Within North America it could conceivably help to discourage investment in fracking.

Whether it will spur debate in the oil-rich Gulf and Middle East states, or in the big fossil fuel producers like Russia and the countries of Central Asia, with their large Muslim populations, is also uncertain.

Improbable audience

ISNA made its announcement within hours of the end of the US presidential campaign, which dismayed many who saw the winner, Republican candidate Donald Trump, as a thuggish bully-boy. Despite his controversial campaign Trump’s entry to the White House was eased for him – perhaps achieved – by the votes of millions of evangelical Christians.

They – and Trump himself, denouncer of global warming as “a total and very expensive hoax” created by the Chinese – seem unlikely to listen to ISNA.

The faith leaders’ meeting, organised by GreenFaith and Divest Invest, which works to speed up the transition to a future of clean energy, released a statement whose signatories include the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and over 220 other faith leaders from around the globe. 

The statement aims to accelerate the move to a low-carbon future quickly enough to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Its supporters argue not only for a shift of public finances away from fossil fuels but for increased financing to end energy poverty with renewable energy, and to ensure that the transition protects human rights and vulnerable communities.

“We’re in a sustainable energy revolution and I believe it’s wiser to invest in the low-carbon technology of today and tomorrow, not the high-carbon technology of yesterday”

One speaker at the faith leaders’ meeting was Mark Sainsbury, chair of the Mark Leonard Trust, one of the Climate News Network’s funders. He said: “The Paris Agreement, new regulations and technological innovation will see fossil fuel companies lose value and market share to sustainable energy technologies.

“In fact, it’s happening already. We’re in a sustainable energy revolution and I believe it’s wiser to invest in the low-carbon technology of today and tomorrow, not the high-carbon technology of yesterday.”

Another, the Revd Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, said: “Religious and spiritual communities recognise that the Earth is a gift, and that it is our responsibility to protect it. In the face of the climate crisis, we are all required to act and to immediately shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.

“Faith communities are also united in their concern to care for the most vulnerable and are committed to bring distributed, clean power to the 1.1 billion people globally who lack access to electricity by 2030.” – Climate News Network

Bubble may burst for fossil fuel giants

NB: EMBARGOED UNTIL 2301 GMT, Monday, 7 October The giant corporations powering the fossil fuel industry are warned that they face a damaging backlash if they try to resist the mounting pressures of climate change legislation and high-profile campaigning London, 7 October − The financial and economic muscle of the global fossil fuel industry’s corporate behemoths will not protect them from the costly effects of negative stigmatisation if they ignore climate change pressures, according to a new academic study. The influence wielded on world stock markets by such corporations is enormous, with oil and gas companies alone making up about 20% of the value of the London financial index and about 11% of that in New York. However, if any meaningful action is to be taken on climate change in the years ahead, the activities of the fossil fuel industry will have to be severely curtailed and the bulk of assets frozen, inevitably leading to a sharp decrease in corporate valuations – what some analysts refer to as a bursting of the “carbon bubble”. Not only are such corporations coming under increasing pressure from regulators and from climate legislation limiting CO² emissions, but a high-profile campaign is also under way to persuade investors to withdraw from companies involved with the fossil fuel industry. According to the new study by academics at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, the fossil fuel companies cannot afford to ignore such campaigns. If they do, they will – at the very least – risk severe damage to their reputation, but they could also face increasing problems raising finance for their work. The study, Stranded Assets and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, compares campaigns going on in the fossil fuel sector with other similar movements that have taken place − such as the campaign against corporations with investments in apartheid South Africa, and tussles with the tobacco, munitions and gaming industries. The campaign against fossil fuel investments is spearheaded by the 350.org group, under the title Fossil Free. The Smith School study says the campaign draws heavily on the experience of targeting apartheid-era investments in South Africa.

Targeting investors

Such campaigns move forward in distinct phases. At first, the aim is to create public awareness and publicity on the issue. Campaigners then target various institutions, particularly universities. Finally, the movement goes global, targeting big investors such as pension funds. However, those anticipating a mass withdrawal of investment are likely to be disappointed, the study says. Experience shows that only a very small proportion of funds is actually withdrawn. “For example, despite the huge interest in the media and a three-decade evolution, only about 80 organisations and funds have ever substantially divested from tobacco equity, and even fewer from tobacco debt,” the study says. But such campaigns create publicity and can harm corporate reputations – resulting in what the study terms “stigmatisation”. It says: “As with individuals, a stigma can produce negative consequences for an organisation. For example, firms heavily criticised in the media suffer from a bad image that scares away suppliers, sub-contractors, potential employees, and customers. “Governments and politicians prefer to engage with ‘clean’ firms to prevent adverse spill-overs that could taint their reputation or jeopardise their re-election. Shareholders can demand changes in management or the composition of the board of directors of stigmatised companies.” This all has a knock-on effect. Companies associated with the fossil fuel sector might find themselves frozen out of public contracts, and banks might be reluctant to make loans. The study says the coal industry − more visibly polluting and less powerful than the oil and gas sector − is likely to feel the biggest initial impact of such a campaign.

Demand depressed

“If during the stigmatisation process, campaigners are able to create the expectation that the government might legislate to levy a carbon tax, which would have the effect of depressing demand, then they will materially increase the uncertainty surrounding the future cash flows of fossil fuel companies,” the study says. The study has some advice for the fossil fuel industry. Rebranding is one option: BP tried this some years ago, with the change from British Petroleum to “Beyond Petroleum” and turning its logo into a green and yellow sunflower. Companies would be ill-advised, says the report, to play tough with campaigners. “The outcomes of stigmatisation will be more severe for companies seen to be engaged in wilful negligence and ‘insincere’ rhetoric − saying one thing and doing another. “Evidence suggests that hardball strategies intensify stigmatisation, focusing attention on companies that are unrepentant about violating social norms.” − Climate News Network

NB: EMBARGOED UNTIL 2301 GMT, Monday, 7 October The giant corporations powering the fossil fuel industry are warned that they face a damaging backlash if they try to resist the mounting pressures of climate change legislation and high-profile campaigning London, 7 October − The financial and economic muscle of the global fossil fuel industry’s corporate behemoths will not protect them from the costly effects of negative stigmatisation if they ignore climate change pressures, according to a new academic study. The influence wielded on world stock markets by such corporations is enormous, with oil and gas companies alone making up about 20% of the value of the London financial index and about 11% of that in New York. However, if any meaningful action is to be taken on climate change in the years ahead, the activities of the fossil fuel industry will have to be severely curtailed and the bulk of assets frozen, inevitably leading to a sharp decrease in corporate valuations – what some analysts refer to as a bursting of the “carbon bubble”. Not only are such corporations coming under increasing pressure from regulators and from climate legislation limiting CO² emissions, but a high-profile campaign is also under way to persuade investors to withdraw from companies involved with the fossil fuel industry. According to the new study by academics at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, the fossil fuel companies cannot afford to ignore such campaigns. If they do, they will – at the very least – risk severe damage to their reputation, but they could also face increasing problems raising finance for their work. The study, Stranded Assets and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, compares campaigns going on in the fossil fuel sector with other similar movements that have taken place − such as the campaign against corporations with investments in apartheid South Africa, and tussles with the tobacco, munitions and gaming industries. The campaign against fossil fuel investments is spearheaded by the 350.org group, under the title Fossil Free. The Smith School study says the campaign draws heavily on the experience of targeting apartheid-era investments in South Africa.

Targeting investors

Such campaigns move forward in distinct phases. At first, the aim is to create public awareness and publicity on the issue. Campaigners then target various institutions, particularly universities. Finally, the movement goes global, targeting big investors such as pension funds. However, those anticipating a mass withdrawal of investment are likely to be disappointed, the study says. Experience shows that only a very small proportion of funds is actually withdrawn. “For example, despite the huge interest in the media and a three-decade evolution, only about 80 organisations and funds have ever substantially divested from tobacco equity, and even fewer from tobacco debt,” the study says. But such campaigns create publicity and can harm corporate reputations – resulting in what the study terms “stigmatisation”. It says: “As with individuals, a stigma can produce negative consequences for an organisation. For example, firms heavily criticised in the media suffer from a bad image that scares away suppliers, sub-contractors, potential employees, and customers. “Governments and politicians prefer to engage with ‘clean’ firms to prevent adverse spill-overs that could taint their reputation or jeopardise their re-election. Shareholders can demand changes in management or the composition of the board of directors of stigmatised companies.” This all has a knock-on effect. Companies associated with the fossil fuel sector might find themselves frozen out of public contracts, and banks might be reluctant to make loans. The study says the coal industry − more visibly polluting and less powerful than the oil and gas sector − is likely to feel the biggest initial impact of such a campaign.

Demand depressed

“If during the stigmatisation process, campaigners are able to create the expectation that the government might legislate to levy a carbon tax, which would have the effect of depressing demand, then they will materially increase the uncertainty surrounding the future cash flows of fossil fuel companies,” the study says. The study has some advice for the fossil fuel industry. Rebranding is one option: BP tried this some years ago, with the change from British Petroleum to “Beyond Petroleum” and turning its logo into a green and yellow sunflower. Companies would be ill-advised, says the report, to play tough with campaigners. “The outcomes of stigmatisation will be more severe for companies seen to be engaged in wilful negligence and ‘insincere’ rhetoric − saying one thing and doing another. “Evidence suggests that hardball strategies intensify stigmatisation, focusing attention on companies that are unrepentant about violating social norms.” − Climate News Network