Today a coalition of NGOs, including 350.org organised a mass mobilisation of hundreds of people at the Place du Pantheon, Paris, to demand that not a penny more of money is invested in the fossil fuel industry. Over five hundred people took part in a visually spectacular mobilisation.
The action took place as world leaders gathered in the French capital, at the ‘One Planet’ climate summit hosted by President Macron, to discuss investment in climate solutions. We are calling on them to not only step-up and make serious commitments to funding climate solutions, but to end the unabated support of the fossil fuel industry.
Civil society began by ringing the alarm around the ongoing financial support a few days ago by holding a mock trial of the fossil fuel funders. Testimonials of people affected by the devastating consequences of the fossil fuel industry, as well as climate change, were presented at the Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil (Paris), to a panel of three judges and a room of 350 live witnesses and 5,500 streaming in on December 10.
The hearings were presided over by three judges: Brett Fleishman, senior finance campaigner for 350.org; Aurélie Trouvé the co-president of the french branch of ‘Attac’, an international movement working towards social, environmental and democratic alternatives, and Marie Toussaint President of ‘Notre affaire à tous’ an organisation that specialises in using law as an advocacy tool to protect the environment and the climate.
The judges unanimously condemned the continued financial support of investments in coal, oil, gas and nuclear, that continue to wreak havoc on the environment and the communities where these investments are made, and issued the following judgement:
“We accuse the public and private financial sectors of violating fundamental rights, we accuse states of violating international treaties, failing to fulfill their obligations to respect and protect the rights of people and commons across the planet. We recall that more than 200 environmental defenders were killed in 2016 worldwide. The sentence we pronounce is international. In Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States and the Pacific, people will rise to turn this crisis into a just transition.”
During the mock-tribunal witnesses presented first hand accounts of the destructive effects coal, oil and gas have had and continue to have on communities from around the world. Testimonials were provided by representatives from: Notre-Dame-Des Landes (France), the Sundarbans (Bangladesh), Hambach forest (Germany), the Overseas territories of France, among fifteen others.
Two years after COP21, we are seeing impacts increase in France and elsewhere. Greenhouse gas concentrations have risen to untenable levels, 2017 has also been one of the hottest years recorded, punctuated by a series of climate change fueled disasters including storms such as Harvey, Irma, wildfires in Portugal and California, unusual heatwaves in Australia, amongst others.
If we carry on burning all the carbon that is currently in operating fields and mines, we will far surpass the Paris Climate Agreement aspiration to limit warming to 1.5C and blow past the 2°C target as well. We only have five years left of burning fossil fuels at the current rate before we go past the ability to curtail warming at this level.
Unfortunately finance in dirty energy persists at untenable levels. According to Oil Change International, between 2013 and 2015, 58% of Public Finance for Energy from G20 Countries went to fossil fuels, while only 15% went to “clean” energy.
This behaviour did not improve after the Paris agreement either, as multilateral development banks (MDB) approved over $5 billion in fossil fuel finance in 2016. MDB finance for oil and gas exploration more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, from $1.05 billion to $2.15 billion.
In response to this continuing financing, yesterday we launched a report uncovering heavy French investments in 12 dirty projects around the world undermining the very process leaders today claim to be meeting for. These projects are located all over the planet including China, Mozambique, Germany and Norway.
This charade can’t go on. Every euro and dollar spent on adaptation and mitigation is being systematically undercut by even more money spent on the fossil fuel industry. There can be no more room in our budgets, carbon or otherwise, for the energy sources of the past. Finance institutions, especially those acting in the public interest. This meeting has a lot of catching up to do to meet the scientific and moral standards established by its predecessor summit.
Civil society is not alone in making this point, just last week, 100 economists from around the world signed the Declaration on Climate Finance, calling for an immediate end to investment in fossil fuel production and infrastructure. “Not a Penny More” can go to the companies and projects that lock in more un-burnable greenhouse gasses.
It is time for the community of global economic actors to step up its efforts to save our planet and preserve our common future. Macron and other world leaders have a chance during the summit to finally start delivering on the promises made in the Paris agreement: simply put, there is no more room for new fossil fuel infrastructure and therefore no case for ongoing investment.
Our primary goal for this summit was to put a spotlight on the discourse of Not A Penny More for fossil fuels. The summit is still ongoing, but we are already hearing a host of announcements coming through in the spirit of fossil free finance. This is the result of years of grassroots campaigning by the climate movement, and we know more will be needed if we have a chance to avoid an already escalating climate crisis.
Here is a sample of what’s come out in the last few hours:
- Storebrand, a Norwegian bank, announced a total of US$3.1billion in “#FossilFree” funds
- The World Bank announced it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas
- The OECD president said that we need to “eliminate all fossil fuel”
- John Kerry got on stage and called for “not a cent more…for coal”
- Dutch bank ING announced today to stop all financing of coal projects and companies (that get more than 5% of their income from coal) by 2025
- Axa, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies announced at the Macron summit today to divest €3.4bn from coal and tar sands. That’s in addition to the €500m coal divestment they announced back in 2015.
- Over 100 economists called for an end to fossil fuel finance
Looking ahead, the global climate movement will keep on pushing through 2018 to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy for all. We will continue to stop new fossil fuel projects, end dirty finance, and push to ensure that as many towns, cities, and regions as possible to commit to 100% renewable energy. Follow updates on gofossilfree.org!