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BlackRock is the canary in the coalmine. Its decision to dump coal signals what’s next

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (16.1.20) about the implications of the world's largest fund manager pledging to toughen its stance on climate change and reduce its investment exposure to thermal coal.

'The announcement by BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, that it will dump more than half a billion dollars in thermal coal shares from all of its actively managed portfolios, might not seem like big news. Announcements of this kind have come out steadily over the past couple of years.

'Virtually all the major Australian and European banks and insurers, and many other global institutions, have already announced such policies.

'According to the Unfriend Coal Campaign, insurance companies have stopped covering roughly US$8.9 trillion of coal investments – more than one-third (37%) of the coal industry’s global assets, and stopped offering reinsurance to 46% of them.

'... The government’s case for doing nothing about climate change (other than cashing in on past efforts) has been premised on the "economy-wrecking" costs of serious action.

'But as investments associated with coal are increasingly seen as toxic, we run an increasing risk that inaction will cause greater damage.'

If we could design JobKeeper within weeks, we can exit coal by 2030. Here's how to do it

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (23.6.20) that exiting from the coal industry would be a matter of transitioning 20,000-25,000 jobs. This should be achievable, the author contends, given during coronavirus we shut down three million jobs and dealt with the consequences impressively.

'As we emerge from the lockdown phase of the pandemic, there are many lessons to learn. One is that when given credible warning of an existential threat, it is better to act early and risk doing too much than to delay acting and face a much bigger and harder to solve problem when the warnings turn out to be correct.

'While the pandemic will pass, one way or another, the problem of global heating, and its many consequences, is going to be with us for the rest of our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren.

'Already the world has had decades of warnings, and has done little to heed them.

'... Quite simply, there is no way of prevent catastrophic climate change unless we stop burning coal to generate electricity, and do it sooner rather than later.'

 

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