Sweet cream ice cream with chocolate cookie pieces, fudge dinosaurs, and a fudge swirl – that’s what made up our old flavor ‘Fossil Fuel’. We made the decision to lay it to rest in the Flavor Graveyard, because we believe that fossil fuels, whether ice cream or the real thing, belong in the ground! We must put an end to investment in fossil fuels if we hope to save our climate, and that’s what many in Europe are trying to do.
Curtains for Coal
For the fossil fuel industry, the writing is on the wall. Coal, oil, and gas are in global decline, and in April this year Peabody Coal – the world’s largest coal company – filed for bankruptcy. If that isn’t a sign, then we don’t know what is. Smart money is moving to clean energy, but not everyone seems to have received the message. Governments continue to pour billions into fossil fuel projects, allowing the big oil and coal companies to continue destructive practices that destroy our planet. In order for us to prevent catastrophic climate change, this has to stop.
The US Faces Down Fossil Fuels
Enter the fossil fuel divestment movement, which aims to take the coal, oil, and gas industry to task over its leading role in climate change. By putting pressure on institutions to pull their investments (i.e. ‘divest’) from dirty fossil fuel stocks, it hits the industry where it hurts the most: their pocket. Globally, institutions worth over $3.4 billion have divested from fossil fuels. That's huge! In the US alone, 286 organizations — including cities as large as San Francisco and Seattle, universities such as Yale and Stanford, churches, non-profits, and other far-reaching organizations — have committed to divesting from fossil fuels. Not only is it a move away from fossil fuel dependency, but a sound financial decision. In a future predicted to be powered by renewable, green energy, investments in fossil fuels promise to plummet in value. Smart organizations are getting out of dirty fossil fuels and putting their dollars behind renewable sources.
And the rest of the world is on board, too. Here’s a quick roundup of a few European countries that are on board with divestment, and are blazing the trail towards a zero carbon future:
Denmark has a progressive approach to all things green. Copenhagen has banned investments in coal, oil, and gas, and is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025. The country has long been leading the charge on wind power, and it even has an island that’s powered entirely by renewable energy (vacation anyone?).
One after another, Germany’s major cities are divesting fully from fossil fuels, and campaigners recently scored a major win with the announcement that Berlin would finally join their number, saying a definitive ‘nein!’ to dirty power. As far back as 2014, the bulk of Germany’s energy was coming from renewable sources, so its commitment to seeing off fossil fuels is crystal clear.
The Dutch town of Boxtel was the first in Europe to divest from fossil fuels, and the country as a whole joined the movement in 2014. Last year a major Dutch pension fund announced it would pull its investments out of fossil fuels, and the pressure is on for other industry giants to follow suit. After realising they were on track to miss their 2020 climate goals, the Dutch shut down five of their coal-fired power plants last year, and environmental groups jumped for joy at the recent announcement that they would wave goodbye to the remaining five.
Oslo was the world’s first capital city to divest from fossil fuels, and plans are afoot to completely ban cars from the city center by 2019. Despite being rich in oil, Norway is famously tough on fossil fuels, and really pulled into the lead in the fight against climate change earlier this year with the announcement of its plans to reduce sales of gas-powered cars to zero by 2020. This prompted a tweet from Tesla founder Elon Musk describing it as ‘an amazingly awesome country’.
Sweden regularly ranks as one of the world’s most environmentally friendly countries, so it’s no surprise that it’s on board with divestment. Its national pension fund started pulling out of investments in oil, coal, and gas back in 2014, and Stockholm was among the first European capital cities to fully divest from fossil fuels. More ambitiously still, it aims to become the world’s first fossil fuel free country!
No Future for Fossil Fuels!
Like Fossil Fuel ice cream, our reliance on coal, oil, and gas is best consigned to the graveyard. We need do everything in our power to work towards the clean energy economy of the future, so that we can stop climate change in its tracks and ensure that life, love, and ice cream continue to flourish. With the Paris Agreement fully ratified and set to go into effect in November, it’s vital that we keep up the momentum. Check out the divestment campaigns taking place throughout Europe and find out how you can add your voice to the millions working to make fossil fuels history!