Defusing The Carbon Bomb
By New Internationalist: In order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, over 80 per cent of known fossil-fuel reserves cannot be burned. As political systems fail to act, Danny Chivers writes about the social movements targeting mines, rigs, infrastructure and investment.
Buddhist temples are shifting investments out of fossil fuels, part of a global ‘divestment’ movement that has so far pulled over $8 trillion from oil, gas and coal companies worldwide. Japan is a key target: three of its biggest banks – Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group – are the first, second and fifth-largest lenders to coal projects globally.
A new alliance of Japanese campaigners, supported by the climate action network 350.org, is pushing for the withdrawal of an estimated $25 billion. Buddhist priest Tomonobu Narita, who recently shifted part of his temple’s investments into a fossil-free fund, told NBC News: ‘Small action when combined [with the actions of others] leads to a bigger effect, so I hope for divestment to have that kind of spread in Japan.’
In response, the three major banks have said they will review and reduce their coal lending. But campaigners are determined to push them further, especially since other Japanese financial institutions such as Nippon Life, Dai-ichi Life and ITOCHU have pledged to exit coal altogether.
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SPAIN AND FRANCE
European campaigners are celebrating after regulators blocked a major natural gas pipeline.
A section of the $3.4-billion MidCat pipeline – planned to connect the Spanish and French gas grids – was built in 2012 but has sat idle as political battles raged over the rest of the 1,250-kilometre route.
In January 2019, regulators rejected the middle portion of the pipeline, citing ‘lack of necessity and high cost’. This followed years of work by campaign network Plataforma Resposta al MidCat, who highlighted the severe potential climate impacts of the pipeline, particularly leaks of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – during extraction and transportation, which can make natural gas as polluting as coal.