Can The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground Campaign Work?

I really respect The Guardian and Alan Rusbridger for what they’re trying to do with this project and accompanying “The Biggest Story in the World” podcast, but how much difference can they make? And how likely is it that we’ll be able to make the necessary global switch to clean energy before we use up the ‘carbon budget’ of 565 gigatons, which will last about 13-15 years.

Personally I find it hard to believe that we can work together for that type of incredibly fast change. I think if we all did put our own individual interests aside and truly worked together, we could get close. But to do that, we need to act immediately. The Paris summit is absolutely critical. We need to get a fixed amount of the remaining oil, coal and gas reserves that can be dug up in law.

As far as The Guardian’s other tactic of trying to encourage major companies and charitable trusts to divest from fossil fuel companies. I like the idea of a type of quiet boycott. The issue is that not many companies seem to agree so far, and even the ones who do in principle, believe that as soon as they share their stakes in these companies, someone else will immediately come in and buy the shares.

A tactic like this, as with all climate change action, requires collaboration between almost everyone to have any real impact. I don’t think that will happen in the short term. Perhaps if a landmark deal is reached in Paris that causes the world to take notice and generates massive momentum, then we might see this tactic start to work. Until then, I don’t see it.

There are other tactics that the campaign can look at using, including making noise in the run up to the general election and talking to car companies about investing more in electric cars and battery tech among other things. They need to explore every possible avenue.