This is an important example of the way the “keep it in the ground” discourse has been captured by the oil industry and reframed as carbon capture – burying the carbon in the ground. Not only is this anything but the safe alternative promoted here, but also, and importantly, putting a price on carbon thus becomes an impetus to develop carbon capture infrastructure which in turn will enable oil mining to continue as usual.
“….But he also approved of fossil fuel divestment, a fast-growing and UN-backed campaign to persuade investors to dump their stocks, on the basis that current reserves of coal, oil and gas are already several times greater than could be safely burned. The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign is highlighting the divestment argument and calling on the world’s two largest medical charities – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foudnation and Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from fossil fuels.
“Divestment is a rational approach,” Moody-Stuart said, speaking at a dinner in London organised by Carbon Trust, which provides advice to businesses on reducing emissions. “If you think your money can be used somewhere else, you should switch it. Selective divestment or portfolio-switching is actually what investors should be doing.” He pointed out that all the major oil and gas companies divested their considerable coal operations in the 1990s. “It was a perfectly rational decision.”
Moody-Stuart condemned the lack of industry progress in addressing climate change. “I find it quite distressing that 18 years after major oil companies, such as BP and Shell, acknowledged the threat of climate change, and the need for precautionary action, and began to put in place modest steps to address it, that the world in general and the industry has made remarkably little progress,” he said.
Moody-Stuart added: “There are two realities acknowledged by most businesses. The first is the needs that have to be met today [but] business leaders also recognise there will at some point be radical change, and industries will be completely transformed. The gap between how we get from one to the other hasn’t really closed.”
The oil and gas majors should be developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) quickly, Moody-Stuart said. “The industry has a real role to play in CCS. We can do it and it can be perfectly safe. it is not rocket science.”
He said a key problem was the vast infrastructure needed for CCS, on the same scale as the existing oil business. “CCS has the potential to have a major impact but I worry because of the scale and we haven’t made much progress with it.”