Carbon Tracker, which works to identify the financial risks behind high-carbon investments, is Blue & Green Tomorrow’s 2013 sustainable NGO of the year.
Launched in 2011, the project’s research suggests as much as 80% of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be safely burned if the world wants to take tackling climate change seriously. Its simple message has underpinned the flourishing divestment movement in 2013.
Carbon Tracker’s flagship study, Unburnable Carbon, adds that companies across the world spent over $650 billion (£441 billion) in 2012 trying to find new sources of oil, gas and coal.
“Smart investors can see that investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision”, said Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (which co-produces the study) in April this year.
The environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, has used Carbon Tracker’s maths during his global divestment tour in 2013. And there are a number of instances to suggest the mainstream investment world is taking it seriously.
Perhaps the most significant came in July, when major Norwegian pension fund Storebrand said it would be divesting from 19 fossil fuels firms, not on moral or ethical grounds, but to ensure “long-term stable returns”. These stocks, it added, will be “worthless financially” in the future.
Carbon Tracker’s work is only going to increase in relevance in 2014 as more mainstream investors begin to see the financial risks associated with the carbon bubble.
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