Over the past several years, there has been a growing movement calling for major investment funds and organizations to divest from fossil fuels. This divestment movement has proven very popular. According to one study, organizations and individuals with around $2.6 trillion in investments have made divestment pledges. Only this week, Oslo, Norway, became the first city to ban investments in fossil fuels completely.
However, despite its popularity, not everyone agrees that it is a worthwhile approach to tackling energy sustainability and climate change. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Bill Gates labeled fossil fuel divestment a false solution.
Gates has a different theory of change. He explained that innovation is the key to the energy “miracle” that he believes is necessary for humanity to move away from fossil fuels and avert dangerous climate change. He stated that research and development into new energy sources, along with a carbon tax to help stimulate innovation, is the best way forward. This, he asserts, would enable humanity to stop relying on fossil fuels, including natural gas, and move straight to clean energy.
By all accounts the fossil fuel divestment movement will continue to grow in the coming years. However, if Bill Gates’ theory of change is correct, divestment is not by itself a solution to our energy needs or the key to tackling climate change.