There are two growing movements that aim to transform economies in one way or another: one is the divestment movement and the other is the REconomy movement that has formed from the transition movement. The two approaches are similar but have different models of operation. Both are looking towards a more sustainable future.
The global divestment movement looks to remove funding from fossil fuel companies buy selling investments in those companies. The REconomy movement is looking to re-invent local economies along more sustainable lines.
The Re-Economy movement is a new European movement of communities “seeking to strengthen their resilience to problems including climate change, rising energy prices, economic uncertainty and inequality”. The movement is an organic movement growing from local communities. The movement is based at the local town, city or district level and aims to offer a more sustainable approach to business. The focus is on new enterprises, local energy schemes and an approach to business that is meant to be more equitable and fairer than other current approaches. They aim to be financially viable and focus upon building resilient local economies.
The approach has identified three ways to have an impact:
1. Inspiring enterprises that are geared to the transition movement (i.e. moving away from the carbon based economy).
2. Economic Enablers. Projects that provide crucial support or infrastructure for other businesses that may be new or existing businesses.
3. Leadership projects that are strategic in nature and are generally partnered activities to plan and co-ordinate a range of activities.
This project is an inspiring framework at re-invention of the local economies and aims to make local places more resilient and less dependent upon external businesses which may break down (by going out of business or closing local branch plants). There are schemes in the following countries: The United Kingdom of Great Britain, Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Latvia and The Netherlands.
This approach has the power to shape a more resilient, localised economy and re-invent local places that may be struggling due to external factors in the wider and increasingly international economy. For further details see the Re-Economy web site.
The second movement that is rapidly growing is the divestment movement. Organisations such as universities, financial or pension funds remove, by selling, their holdings of investments in fossil fuel companies. The movement has also focused on removing investments from companies based upon ethical concerns or campaigns. Over the years there have been responses to sell off companies that perhaps support political regimes or promote selling products in unethical ways. Often the pressure has been added by media reports or public campaigns that make more people aware of situations with particular, often multinational, companies.
The divest.org web site describes an “accelerating the transition to a sustainable and equitable economy”. The movement is encouraging individuals and others to move investments from fossil fuel companies as morally there is no way that these companies can continue to sell their reserves in the light of rapid climate change (or anthropogenic climate disruption – ACD). The proven reserves of fossil fuel companies can no longer be burnt unless we want to experience runaway global climate catastrophe.
There are five reasons for divesting from the fossil fuel companies:
1. Invest in more ethical companies that will not be responsible for our collective fate. Burning fossil fuels is causing climatic disruption (with flooding, wild fires and droughts affecting many thousands of people around the world).
2. Reduction of the influence of big companies on our energy policies. These companies have a vested interest to keep to business as usual: this is no longer an option.
3. It will strengthen the climate movement and allow it to be more organised and have a collective voice.
4. Reduce exposure to stranded carbon assets. Scientists have identified the need to keep the majority of fossil fuel reserves where they are: in the ground. Potentially the reserves could become stranded assets that investors cannot sell.
5. Reinvest in the solutions to the problem. The new economy will be carbon free. There is great potential in up and coming zero carbon renewable technological development.
Another similar organisation to divest is the go fossil free web site. It highlights a number of divestments from around the world including the cities of Oslo and Minneapolis. Oslo, Norway was the first capital city to divest of its fossil fuel assets. Other organisations actively divesting include colleges, religions, cities, counties, foundations and institutions. More details can be reviewed on the web site.
The divest and re-Economy movements are rapidly growing and challenging the prevailing business models. They are gaining widespread backing and support. There is a growing youth awareness and this is likely to filter into the wider economy in time.