Sweden and Norway Announce Bold Plans for Coal-and-Oil-Free Futures
October 22, 2015
William Brittlebank / Climate Action Program & Tierney Smith / EcoWatch
As the crucial December summit on climate change approaches, more than 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals from across 43 countries, and managing more than $2.6 trillion in investments have pledged to ditch their holdings in fossil fuels. 45 cities around the world that have committed to ban investments in coal, oil and gas companies. Norway is divesting entirely from coal and Sweden vows to be 100% renewable by 2050.
Sweden to Become World's
First Fossil-Fuel-Free Nation
William Brittlebank / Climate Action Program
(October 14, 2015) -- The Swedish government will invest 4.4 billion krone ($546 million) of its 2016 budget in a bid to become the world's first fossil-fuel free nation by 2050. Sweden will boost investment in clean technology and renewable energy, according to an announcement made at the end of September.
The Scandinavian state intends to become the world's first fossil-fuel free nation by 2050 through heavy investment in solar and wind energy, smart grids and clean transport.
Last year, two-thirds of Sweden's electricity generation came from clean and low-carbon sources and the country aims to improve on this, with plans to increase investment in photovoltaics eightfold to 390 million krone a year between 2017 and 2019.
This budget increase will be financed through heavy taxes on petrol and diesel fuel, as well as through airport and nuclear plant closures and the sale of coal mines.
The prioritization of climate action is fast becoming the norm in Scandinavia, with neighboring countries such as Denmark taking similar initiatives. Sweden hopes to lead by example in the run up to climate talks at COP21 in Paris in December.
Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has told the Swedish Parliament: "Children should grow up in a toxin-free environment; the precautionary principle, the removal of dangerous substances and the idea that the polluter should pay are the basis of our politics."
Sweden Ranked as Most Sustainable Country in the World
Climate Action Program
(July 14, 2015) -- Sweden is the most sustainable country in the world, according to a new study by investment company RobecoSAM. Zurich-based RobecoSAM focuses exclusively on sustainability investing and assessed 60 countries across a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors with Norway coming in second place.
The Measuring Country Intangibles RobecoSAM's Country Sustainability Ranking is based on key risk and return drivers relevant for investors and consists of 17 indicators that give insights into the investment risks and opportunities associated with each country.
Sweden did not score particularly well on renewable energy or overall energy use but did perform well on liberty and equality, investment in education and the ability to respond to environmental threats.
Johan Duvyesteyn, senior researcher at Robeco Quantitative Strategies, said: "Our statistical analysis helps us identify which sustainability criteria are financially more relevant, which in turn helps us make better-informed investment decisions."
Switzerland completed the top three; with the top 10 also including Great Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, and Austria. The study found that China, Thailand, Nigeria, Egypt and Venezuela were the least sustainable nations.
Developing Megacities Most at Risk from Climate Change
Climate Action Program
(October 28, 2011) -- A study by mapping firm Maplecroft has revealed that megacities emerging in Africa and Asia will face the brunt of the effects of climate change. This includes sea level rise, flooding and weather related disasters. The study also ranked the world's nations and cities in terms of climate vulnerability.
The rankings reveal Haiti to be most at risk and Iceland to be the least. Dhaka is the city most at risk, while many other African and Asian cities are at high or extreme risk. The mapping firm state, "Population growth in these cities combines with poor government effectiveness, corruption, poverty and other socio-economic factors to increase the risks to residents and business."
"The impacts of this could have far reaching consequences, not only for local populations, but on business, national economies and on the balance sheets of investors around the world, particularly as the economic importance of these nations is set to dramatically increase," says chief analyst Charlie Beldon.
Developing world cities are most at risk due to a catenation of vulnerabilities. Most cities in the developing world suffer from: rapidly increasing population, increasing risk from flooding and storms and changes in rainfall intensity and frequency. The negatives of this can also be the positives however, as a changing population can lead to opportunities for goods and services.
The study also pointed out that even developed countries can be vulnerable, highlighting the floods in Brisbane earlier this year. Miami also ranked highly on the list of vulnerable cities.
Oslo Becomes First Capital City
In the World to Divest From Fossil Fuels
Tierney Smith / TckTckTck EcoWatch
(October 19, 2015) -- The City of Oslo has, today, become the first capital city in the world to ban investments in fossil fuels, as it announced it will divest its $9 billion pension fund from coal, oil and gas companies. Today's announcement follows a previous pledge in March to ban investment in coal.
Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, of the Green Party in Oslo said:
We are very happy to announce that Oslo will take responsibility for the climate, both through our own policies and our investments.
The time for climate action is now, and the new city government will address climate change both locally and globally. The reduction in pollution will make the city even better to live in, and ensure that we take our global responsibility.
In June this year, the Norwegian Parliament also announced the country's Sovereign Wealth Fund -- worth $900 billion -- would sell off over $8 billion in coal investments.
Oslo's "brave decision" just weeks away from the UN climate talks in Paris has been welcomed by but national and international environmental groups.
Arild Hermstad of Norwegian environmental NGO Future in Our Hands said:
There's a strong symbolism when the capital city of our oil producing nation says 'no' to investing in fossil fuels. It shows that fossil fuels are history, and that shifting away from them, and to renewables, is the future. We expect and we encourage other oil producing countries to follow suit.
350.org Europe Team Leader Nicolo Wojewoda said:
Oslo sets an example for cities around the world and shows investors like the Norwegian pension fund that if you have committed to divest from coal, it's time to take the jump to divest from all fossil fuels now.
If you want to see climate action, you can't continue investing in the coal, oil and gas companies that are ruining our climate.
Oslo joins a growing movement of 45 cities around the world that have committed to ban investments in coal, oil and gas companies. Last month, a study showed that to date over 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals from across 43 countries, and managing more than $2.6 trillion have pledged to ditch their holdings in fossil fuels.
As it becomes clear that large swathes of known fossil fuels must be left in the ground if the world is going to limit global temperature rise below the internationally agreed danger threshold of 2C, more and more institutions are pulling their funds out of these risky, dirty energy companies, and shifting their investments into fuelling a renewable energy future.
What began as half a dozen college campuses in 2011, has grown to a global movement that is reaching right to the heart of the financial sector.
And the pressure is now on other to follow Oslo's suit as the fossil fuel divestment movement challenges more investors to commit to divest from fossil fuels in the lead-up to the climate negotiations in Paris.
Through this win and strong campaigns in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm and many more cities, divestment is moving on to an even bigger stage -- we hope that national governments in capital cities around the world will take notice, and start breaking their own links with the fossil fuel industry.
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