Horizon Social Media Analysis

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The end of the fossil fuel era

Accused of being responsible for global warming, it’s no surprise that fossil fuels no longer enjoy the popularity they once had. Aware of the risk they are taking, the financial world is starting a slow shift towards divestment, attracting more and more followers.

93% of global social network users think fossil fuels are obsolete, although only 65% of Americans would agree. As far as French opinion is concerned, 75% concur. As for global companies, only 76% see fossil fuels as an energy of the past, a figure that falls to only 66% in France.

 


Finance divesting in fossil fuel sector


Although French companies seem to be behind the others, the divestment movement is convincing more and more institutions, both public and private, keen to distance themselves from a sector considered as risky and harmful for the planet. The NGO 300.org announced today in Le Bourget that 500 institutions all over the world, with over 3,4 trillion dollars in assets, have decided to disinvest from coal, petrol and gas. So even investors are now taking the climate risk very seriously. Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Fund, spoke of fossil fuels as “risky assets but, above all, assets which will lose value.”  


An over-subsidised sector


Despite today’s announcements, the divestment trend remains small. States continue to largely subsidise fossil fuels. In a report published in September 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that 450 billion dollars of public subsidies are still given to the sector. Of gas, petrol and coal, petrol is winning the race as it receives more than 80% of the subsidies against 8% for coal and 10% for gas. To have any chance of limiting rising temperatures to below 2 degrees, the International Energy agency (IEA) on the other hand, has concluded that 80% of fossil fuel stocks will have to remain underground.

 

© Athit Perawongmetha / ReutersMario Anzuoni