Can Birmingham become Fossil Free? The much lauded international campaign ‘Fossil Free’ aims to get institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The rationale for this is that if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from wrecking the climate. American climate campaigner Bill McKibben spoke at the University of Birmingham at the end of last year as part of a Fossil Free tour. This led to the start of a group in Birmingham with the ambition of getting Birmingham divested.
The idea behind divestment is a very interesting and effective concept. Pensions are a huge business, which involves huge amounts of money being invested in companies to allow those pensions to grow. A lot of this is often invested in fossil fuel companies as well as arms companies. Divestment asks for companies to opt out of investing in these companies and look for more sustainable and less morally dubious alternatives. We’re all connected to institutions that claim to be looking out for the public good, from local councils and governments, to universities, public banks and religious institutions. Many of these institutions, however, continue to support the fossil fuel industry whether we know it or not. Given that we have to leave 80% of the proven reserves of coal, oil and gas in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic changes to our climate, these institutions have a responsibility to stop supporting an industry whose business model is based on wrecking our future.
The global and national campaign has being gathering pace at an astounding rate of knots. Many universities in the UK are looking at divesting, and we’ve started to see faith groups look at it as well. Further afield, the Mayor of Seattle has recently come out in favour of making Seattle fossil free and many institutions in the US and Australia are following suit.
This brings us back home to Birmingham. A city that was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Famous for having a black sky due to amount of coal it used. What a great thing it could be for this city to lead a new revolution. Birmingham City Council have lofty ambitions to make Birmingham a leading light for green cities. The Birmingham Green Commission have developed a carbon road map to guide us on this route. This gives us a great opportunity to make them follow through with what they are saying and go further.
A Birmingham Fossil Free campaign is being set up to do just this, bringing people together from over the city and from different organisations, as well as individuals. Our aim is to encourage as many institutions, businesses and individuals as possible, including Birmingham City Council, to divest. To show that it is possible to make as much or more by investing in ethical and sustainable practices. This would deal a massive blow to the big energy companies and could be a huge boost to renewables and other ethical companies.
If you want to find out more you can visit the global Fossil Free website at: www.gofossilfree.org/uk
If you want to be involved in the campaign in Birmingham, or help the place of your work divest, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org