The arm of the United Nations that deals with climate change negotiations announced recently announced its support for the campaign towards fossil fuel divestment. According to the Guardian, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said it was lending its “moral authority” to the divestment campaign as it seeks a strong deal to confront global warming at this year’s key UN summit in Paris in December.
“We support divestment, as it sends a signal to companies, especially coal companies, that the age of ‘burn what you like, when you like,’ cannot continue,” UNFCCC spokesperson Nick Nuttall told the Guardian. “Everything we do is based on science and the science is pretty clear that we need a world with a lot less fossil fuels. We have lent our own moral authority as the UN to the group or organizations who are divesting. We are saying ‘we support your aims and ambitions because they are fairly and squarely our ambition,’ which is to get a good deal in Paris.”
This move by the UNFCCC is most likely going to be unpopular with many countries whose economies rely on fossil fuels, and has already been criticized by the World Coal Association–which stated the move threatened investment in cleaner coal technologies.
Several studies have shown that catastrophic global warming would be certain if all the current fossil fuel reserves were burned. Divestment campaigners contend that trillions of dollars worth of investments companies continue to make in fossil fuels is not only bad for climate, but also for the investors’ capital.
Despite this strong statement by one branch of the UN, it looks like the chief is not fully on board with the plan. While UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon did ask investors to reduce their investments in fossil fuels and move to renewable energy in November, he failed to support the divestment movement itself.