New strategy necessary
The international climate conferences under the auspices of the United Nations have demonstrated that a global agreement on sizeable emission cuts is difficult to put in place. Should a climate agreement be reached in 2015, which is the aim, it is not planned to come into operation before 2020. If we do not achieve cuts in global emissions before this, it will be difficult to achieve the target of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2 °C.
A new and more ambitious strategy is therefore necessary. We know that most of our fossil fuel reserves cannot be recovered. A logical consequence of this will then be to introduce restrictions on companies’ right to produce and a global tax on production that is high enough to make energy from renewable sources preferable. The recognised climate researcher James Hansen has proposed a system of imposing a progressive fee on producers and imports of fossil fuel (18) with return of the dividend to the population. The scheme has been successfully introduced in British Columbia, Canada (19).
Bill McKibben, winner of the Sophie Prize in 2013, has pointed out that we have an economic «carbon bubble», because around 80 % of the fossil fuel reserves identified by the industry and factored into their share value must remain under ground to prevent very serious climate-related damage (16). McKibben has started a «fossil-free» campaign which points out that it is not only ethically questionable, but also economically risky to invest in coal, oil and gas. Many investors, also in Norway, have decided to withdraw their investments from the fossil fuel industry. In a speech to the World Economic Forum in January 2014, the president of the World Bank also recommended that both public and private investors should consider divesting from coal, oil and gas (20).