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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is And So Is Carbon Reduction

From the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries around the world are trying to solve the problem of climate change. The goal is to control the temperature rise within 2°C or 1.5°C in this century as pointed out in the latest IPCC report. Despite the fact that carbon reduction plays an indispensable role in slowing down climate change, there is still a large amount of carbon emission both domestically and abroad which mainly comes from the burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas, etc.). To achieve the goal of maintaining temperature rise within 1.5°C, fossil fuels must be replaced by renewable energy around the world.

Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked for divestment from fossil fuel. Source: flickr

So how do we stop the excavation and consumption of fossil fuels and develop renewable energy instead? One way is to reduce the polluter's funds and weaken their ability to make investments, which is what we called "divestment". Simply put, divestment is to withdraw funds from the project originally intended to be invested. For example, if the parent confiscates the children's allowance to buy candy so as not to make them gain weight, this is a form of divestment. From a financial point of view, if we want something in return for the funds we have devoted to a project, that's called an "investment". On the contrary, if we withdraw funds in the form of money, stocks, securities, etc. from a project, that's called a "divestment".

Divestment is a way to protest against the fossil fuel industries by making good use of the capital market and transferring the funds to projects that are truly beneficial to the society and environment such as renewable energy, education, and health insurance. Aside from the financial impact, the divestment is also a way to let the fossil fuel industries know that they are not the subject we support as to the fact that they are considered as harmful industries that must be eliminated.

From individuals, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, enterprises, to public authorities, everyone can make a divestment by withdrawing their funds from fossil fuel industries to slow down climate change and environmental pollution. At present, there are nearly 60,000 self-employed individuals and more than 1,000 institutions worldwide divesting a total of US$8.73 trillion from the fossil fuel industries. Famous cases include Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation's divestment from the fossil fuel industries in 2015 and Amalgamated Bank, the first bank in America to divest a total business asset of US$4 billion from fossil fuel industries in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, Berlin and New York divested from the fossil fuel industries respectively so that their citizens no longer invest in environmental pollution. In 2018, Ireland became the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuel industries. A total sovereign wealth fund of €8 billion will no longer be invested in the fossil fuel industries meaning that the money paid by the taxpayers will no longer be invested in fossil fuel industries that exacerbate climate change.

Distribution of units who divest from fossil fuel industries worldwide as of today. Source: Fossil Free Divestment Commitment

Seeing Taiwan from a global perspective, the non-profit organization 350 Taiwan was founded in 2016 with the main purpose of bringing the issue of divestment to Taiwan. Ever since 2016, 350 Taiwan has been committed to raising the general public's awareness of the connection between finance and climate change through various activities so that they are able to take better actions. Just like the way you stop buying junk food to lose weight, you also need to stop making investments in fossil fuel industries to achieve carbon reduction. This is the result attainable by making divestment. As long as more and more units join the rank of divestment, the fossil fuel industries will be ultimately eliminated and the funds will be transferred to industries that make our world a better place in the future. Therefore, if you save money, pay tax, pay tuition, and buy insurance, aside from caring about the services you get in return, you also need to pay attention to where the money goes - whether it is invested in the fossil fuel industries that exacerbate carbon emission and climate change. To sum up, financial management and climate change are the issues of concern between you and me!

要減肥要花對錢,要減碳也是 - 金融管理與氣候變遷

從1997年的京都議定書到2015年的巴黎協議,全球各國都在試圖解決氣候變遷問題,目標將本世紀的升溫控制在2度C之內,又或是IPCC新報告中指出1.5度C目標。氣候變遷需要減碳來應對,國內外大量的碳排放都來自於能源的使用,也就是化石燃料(石油、煤礦、天然氣) 的燃燒。如果想要達到1.5度的目標,全球就必須從化石燃料轉為使用再生能源。





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