People concerned about climate change were so happy to hear the news that the Paris City Council had gone on record as favoring divestment from fossil fuel companies.
In a week when record winds shattered lives on Vanuatu and new data showed that the northern hemisphere had just come through the hottest winter in history, this bold move came as a welcome ray of sunshine.
The South Pacific disaster, the data on this northern hemisphere’s winter temperatures as well as the atmospheric pollution Paris frequently suffers from represent more concrete evidence that we should keep fossil fuels in the ground.
As you most likely know, we can’t produce more that 565 gigatonnes of CO2 in the future if we want a good chance of maintaining global warming under the 2°C limit.
However, fossil fuel reserves (those we’re are burning or about to burn) represent almost 3000 gigatonnes of potential emissions. Fossil fuel companies are sitting on a climate bomb, yet banks, institutions and local authorities continue to invest money in the sector –- and to profit from their shares in these companies wrecking our climate.
The motion, submitted by the Green Party, that the Paris City council adopted on 16th March is a very important step towards a fossil fuel free future.
That’s why it’s so imperative that the city government now agrees to implement this wise recommendation, and ensures that the newly created endowment fund never invests in fossil fuel companies (and refuses their donations), while making sure that the council members’ pension fund divests from the sector.
With Paris playing host to the next climate talks at the end of the year, it has a responsibility to set an example and to go a step further. The city could take a leadership role in local authorities’ climate action and call other cities in France to join the divestment movement. Together, they can play a decisive role in pushing the main public French pension funds that manage their employees’ complementary pensions to divest from fossil fuels. Concretely, the city of Paris should demand that the IRCANTEC and CNRAC reserves (both managed by the Caisse des Dépôts) ; as well as the ERAFP assets are are divested from fossil fuels.
The momentum behind a Fossil Free France would help immeasurably as the world heads toward the important climate negotiations in Paris this December.
Paris should clearly use its time in the spotlight to convince other capitals to divest. The European Mayor’s Climate Summit that the city hosted on March 26, represents a missed opportunity to push the divestment agenda and convince London and Berlin to follow in the footsteps of Paris, and join San Francisco and Seattle among the first cities to divest. They will join a growing list alongside the universities of Stanford and Glasgow, The World Council of Churches and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. So far, over 200 institutions representing assets in excess of $50 billion have already committed to divest from fossil fuels.
The fact that the City of Light realizes it can blaze into the future without endangering the climate of the planet is a great moment in the campaign for a workable future. We salute you, and ask you to keep up the pressure!
In December, Paris will be at the center of the world’s attention. Tens of thousands of citizens will come to push for bold climate action. You should not miss this unique opportunity, but rather play your role in building this momentum.
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