Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster
Monday 18th January 2016
You may not have heard of the “Keep it in the ground” campaign, and even if you have, do you understand the implications? Well the premise of the campaign is to persuade companies and individuals to divest away from fossil fuels as a means of generating support towards achieving the 2050 climate change targets. But this campaign comes with a financial edge, if firms, pension funds, investors move away from fossil fuels – who provides the capital finance needed for continued investment?
Perhaps we should take more notice then of this campaign. The campaign conforms to the classic model explained by Chris Rose, in his guide “How to win campaigns”, in that it paints an image of black v white. No shades of grey. Fossil fuels = bad, so divest. It doesn’t say, some fossil fuels are dirtier than others. Nor that we need some fossil fuels to work alongside renewables to keep the lights on and our homes heated. If it did, according to the theory, then people won’t make the commitment or sign up to the campaign.
The answer to this campaign is to make the arguments about degrees, about shades, language that is moderate and passes the “common-sense” check we are all gifted with. Energy policy is about debate, discussion and use of hard evidence. If done maturely, common sense wins through every time.
In passing, I will point out another option – ridicule. For those advocating divestment, ask what heats their home, powers their car, or keeps the lights on? Ask then how this is made secure, so it is there when they need it? Who pays for the investment and where do they get the money from? Now it could be some people are immune from the ridicule; some care not about their hypocrisy but it will make you feel good if nothing else.
Mike Foster CE
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