Protecting our future through our financial decisions:
The threat of global warming across the planet is real and urgent. 2015 saw the highest temperatures ever recorded, and global average temperatures have recently been breaking new records year after year.
The Japanese archipelago is experiencing abnormal climate events as well, including unprecedented heat waves and repeated heavy rainfall. In places all over the world, we frequently hear of droughts, torrential rain, heavy floods, violent typhoons and forest fires. The human damage and negative impacts on biodiversity, food production, and water resources are only worsening. These impacts of global warming are being seen as the greatest risk to the global economy.
In December 2015, representatives from 195 countries gathered in Paris to adopt the “Paris Treaty” based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The objective of this historical agreement is to promote initiatives aimed at stopping the rise in atmospheric temperature since the Industrial Revolution within 1.5-2°C. To achieve this objective, a swift and major reduction in greenhouse gases is required. With regard to fossil fuel consumption, which produces the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions, research indicates over 80% of fossil fuels that are confirmed to be buried underground must not be burned. In other words, in order to maintain a safe global environment, it is a matter of urgent priority that we dramatically curtail the amount of fossil fuels we consume while accelerating a shift to a society based on renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government is going against the global transition towards renewable energy and is determined to maintain an energy system that relies on nuclear power with the inherent risk of radioactive contamination and the problems of disposing nuclear waste, while also depending upon coal-fired thermal power which has the highest amounts of CO2 emissions. Operating nuclear and coal-fired thermal plants on the pretext of them being a “stable electricity source” only serves to heighten future disaster risks, threatening the future of the people and passing the burden onto future generations. Promoting investment in fossil fuels in a world that is moving towards breaking away from the fossil fuel and nuclear power generation raises the risk of stranded assets as well as the loss of value of the invested funds.
To realize a more sustainable society and in order to leave a safe living environment for future generations and all life on earth, 350 Japan strongly advocates for the urgent need to promote a shift to a “100% renewable energy society” that does not depend on nuclear power or fossil fuels.
However, the organizations that manage our money continue to invest and loan it to both corporations linked to fossil fuels, which are accelerating rising temperatures, and to corporations connected to nuclear power.
A survey commissioned by 350.org revealed that the investments in, and loans to corporations related to fossil fuels, increasing domestic coal-fired thermal power facilities and nuclear power-related companies by Japan’s mega-banking groups – including Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho, Mitsui Sumitomo and Mitsui Sumitomo Trust – amounted to approximately 5.389 trillion Japanese Yen in 2014. This survey also found that Japan’s major life insurance companies have investments and loans totalling 4.330 trillion Japanese Yen in companies connected to fossil fuels and nuclear power. Another study identified that the amount invested and loaned by bank groups into renewable energy was one-eighth of those in fossil fuels.
The most effective way we can rectify this situation is by altering the flow of money at the root of the problem. Deciding not to invest in, or lend to businesses related to fossil fuels – which accelerate global warming and which in turn will have a serious impact on human society, as well as in dangerous nuclear companies – amounts to fulfilling our responsibility internationally, for society and also for the economy.
Withdrawing investment from unsustainable industries in this way is called “divestment.” Furthermore, by re-investing the divested funds into businesses that support the creation of a sustainable society, we are able to divert the flow of money in a direction that protects future generations.