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Climate change will harm finance, warns campaigner

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CLIMATE change will ultimately harm Jersey’s finance industry as well as its environment, and the Island should take a lead in withdrawing public money from investment in fossil fuel companies, a campaigner has said.

Ollie Taylor Picture: ROB CURRIE. (24789296)

Last year climate change lobbyist Ollie Taylor launched a petition calling for the States to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in its Common Investment Fund, which holds public funds to the sum of nearly £3 billion.

Further research carried out by Mr Taylor has revealed that last year the CIF, which is managed by independent fund managers, reduced its investment in highly polluting companies from around £90 million to £37 million.

Mr Taylor said that Jersey should now completely divest from fossil fuel companies to show it is serious about a States decision made earlier this month to declare a climate change emergency and target the Island becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

‘Internally, when it comes to carbon emissions, Jersey probably scores quite well. We get the majority of our electricity from France and although we have a high number of cars we’re a small population of around 100,000 people,’ he said.

‘But there is also the aspect of how we interact with the world. If we were to divest from these companies which are responsible for greater carbon emissions, then it would be good for our reputation and show we take the climate emergency seriously.

‘I would like to see us leading the world on this.’

He said that climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels, which increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, would eventually damage Jersey’s economy as well as environment.

‘At the end of the day it’s not good enough saying we are only small, so should continue profiting from these investments as other people will if we don’t,’ he said.

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‘There is a moral as well as economic question. And I don’t think that our government should be taking public money and investing it in things that in the long run are going to cause both economic and environmental harm, including to Jersey.

‘I don’t think people realise how serious this climate crisis is and it will impact on us – we are a globally connected world, and although we can feel like we’re in a bubble at times what happens in the rest of the world does affect us.’

He added: ‘A lot of money is invested through Jersey and if there are going to be more hurricanes, droughts and food shortages caused by climate collapse, then it’s ultimately going to damage global markets and that will affect us.

‘The investments in fossil fuels are only a small fraction of the Common Investment Fund – why not go further and divest from them completely, like Ireland is currently proposing?’

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Mr Taylor added that the Bank of England had recently warned that climate change could wipe £20 trillion off the value of global investments, which is ten times more than the global financial crisis.

Last year the Republic of Ireland, which also has a large finance industry, became the first country in the world to commit to completely divesting from fossil fuel companies.

The Common Investment Fund is a combined pool of States funds, such as the Strategic Reserve and Social Security Fund, designed to aid investment of public money.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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