Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is And So Is Carbon Reduction

From the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries around the world are trying to solve the problem of climate change. The goal is to control the temperature rise within 2°C or 1.5°C in this century as pointed out in the latest IPCC report. Despite the fact that carbon reduction plays an indispensable role in slowing down climate change, there is still a large amount of carbon emission both domestically and abroad which mainly comes from the burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas, etc.). To achieve the goal of maintaining temperature rise within 1.5°C, fossil fuels must be replaced by renewable energy around the world.


Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked for divestment from fossil fuel. Source: 350.org flickr

So how do we stop the excavation and consumption of fossil fuels and develop renewable energy instead? One way is to reduce the polluter's funds and weaken their ability to make investments, which is what we called "divestment". Simply put, divestment is to withdraw funds from the project originally intended to be invested. For example, if the parent confiscates the children's allowance to buy candy so as not to make them gain weight, this is a form of divestment. From a financial point of view, if we want something in return for the funds we have devoted to a project, that's called an "investment". On the contrary, if we withdraw funds in the form of money, stocks, securities, etc. from a project, that's called a "divestment".


Divestment is a way to protest against the fossil fuel industries by making good use of the capital market and transferring the funds to projects that are truly beneficial to the society and environment such as renewable energy, education, and health insurance. Aside from the financial impact, the divestment is also a way to let the fossil fuel industries know that they are not the subject we support as to the fact that they are considered as harmful industries that must be eliminated.

From individuals, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, enterprises, to public authorities, everyone can make a divestment by withdrawing their funds from fossil fuel industries to slow down climate change and environmental pollution. At present, there are nearly 60,000 self-employed individuals and more than 1,000 institutions worldwide divesting a total of US$8.73 trillion from the fossil fuel industries. Famous cases include Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation's divestment from the fossil fuel industries in 2015 and Amalgamated Bank, the first bank in America to divest a total business asset of US$4 billion from fossil fuel industries in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, Berlin and New York divested from the fossil fuel industries respectively so that their citizens no longer invest in environmental pollution. In 2018, Ireland became the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuel industries. A total sovereign wealth fund of €8 billion will no longer be invested in the fossil fuel industries meaning that the money paid by the taxpayers will no longer be invested in fossil fuel industries that exacerbate climate change.


Distribution of units who divest from fossil fuel industries worldwide as of today. Source: Fossil Free Divestment Commitment

Seeing Taiwan from a global perspective, the non-profit organization 350 Taiwan was founded in 2016 with the main purpose of bringing the issue of divestment to Taiwan. Ever since 2016, 350 Taiwan has been committed to raising the general public's awareness of the connection between finance and climate change through various activities so that they are able to take better actions. Just like the way you stop buying junk food to lose weight, you also need to stop making investments in fossil fuel industries to achieve carbon reduction. This is the result attainable by making divestment. As long as more and more units join the rank of divestment, the fossil fuel industries will be ultimately eliminated and the funds will be transferred to industries that make our world a better place in the future. Therefore, if you save money, pay tax, pay tuition, and buy insurance, aside from caring about the services you get in return, you also need to pay attention to where the money goes - whether it is invested in the fossil fuel industries that exacerbate carbon emission and climate change. To sum up, financial management and climate change are the issues of concern between you and me!


要減肥要花對錢,要減碳也是 - 金融管理與氣候變遷


從1997年的京都議定書到2015年的巴黎協議,全球各國都在試圖解決氣候變遷問題,目標將本世紀的升溫控制在2度C之內,又或是IPCC新報告中指出1.5度C目標。氣候變遷需要減碳來應對,國內外大量的碳排放都來自於能源的使用,也就是化石燃料(石油、煤礦、天然氣) 的燃燒。如果想要達到1.5度的目標,全球就必須從化石燃料轉為使用再生能源。


要如何停止化石燃料的發展與使用,同時發展更多再生能源?其中一個方式便是減少他們的資金、影響他們投資開發的能力,稱為「撤資」。簡單來說,就是把資金從本來(想)投注的地方抽離。像是父母不希望小孩拿零用錢買糖吃,越吃越胖。把零用錢收回來,這就是撤資。從金融的角度來說,把資金投出並希望有所回報叫做「投資」,那麼「撤資」就是完全相反,將其資金撤出,資金的形式可以是金錢、股票、證劵等。


撤資運用資本市場的方式向化石燃料產業提出抗議,同時將資金轉移到真正對社會、對環境正向發展的事物上,像是再生能源、教育、健保等。除了金融面的影響外,這樣的撤資行動也是讓那些化石燃料產業知道他們不是我們支持的對象,指名化石燃料產業為有害產業,必須被淘汰。


撤資行動可以被不同單位採用,從個人、學術單位、非營利組織、企業、官方單位等都可以將所擁有的資金移動,撤離加速氣候變遷、使環境惡化的化石燃料產業。目前全球已有近60,000的個體戶、1000多個機構,一共撤資8.73兆美元。較著名的案例有如影星李奧納多·狄卡皮歐(2015)以個人名義加上其基金會撤資,美國銀行Amalgamated(2016)是全美第一家撤資的銀行,決定將其40億美元的商用資產撤離化石燃料產業。以城市為單位,柏林市(2017)與紐約市(2018)分別執行撤資計畫,讓市民不再投資汙染。而2018的撤資大新聞,愛爾蘭成為全球第一個撤資的國家。80億歐元的國家主權基金將不再投資化石燃料產業,這等於是納稅人的錢不會在支持加劇氣候變遷的產業。


從國際看到台灣,非營利組織350台灣在2016年創立,主要目的為將撤資議題帶入台灣。組織從2016至今舉辦過各式活動,希望用不同方式讓大眾連結金融與氣候變遷的關係,進而採取行動。要減肥就要花對錢,不可以亂買零食吃。減碳也是一樣,不該花錢來造成更多碳排放。這就是撤資可以達到的效果,只要有越來越多的單位加入,化石燃料產業就勢必會被淘汰,讓資金轉流到對未來有幫助的產業。所以,如果你有存錢、繳稅、付學費、保險,除了關心你所獲得的服務之外,也該重視那些錢跑到哪裡去了?是否有被用來資助你所不支持的產業?在世上排出更多的碳加劇氣候變遷問題。金融管理與氣候變遷,是你我都該關注的事!

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