“Heat rises for fossil fuel industry as climate talks gather pace”: FT.

FT: “This is not a comforting week to be an investor in a big oil or coal company. It began with rallies in capital cities around the world, where tens of thousands of people marched to demand more action to fight climate change. It continues with a UN summit in New York on Tuesday, where Barack Obama, the US president, is to join more than 120 national leaders to set out what sort of climate action they plan to take.”
“None of this is likely to shake the share price of a global coal miner such as Peabody Energy, or an oil major such as ExxonMobil. But it marks the start of 15 potentially discomfiting months for the fossil fuel industry ahead of a UN meeting in Paris in December next year, where leaders have promised to sign a global deal to stem the greenhouse gases driving climate change.
The New York shindig is not part of the formal negotiations for the Paris meeting. It is supposed to bolster the process by forcing leaders to focus on what needs to be done before they finalise an agreement in France.
The last time so many heads of state met to talk about climate action was in 2009 in Copenhagen, where they failed to come up with an effective plan.
If history is a guide, the Paris deal should also fail: the UN has been trying to broker a meaningful global climate agreement since 1992. Since then, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pumped out by the world’s power plants, factories and cars, have risen 50 per cent.
A lot has changed since Copenhagen, however, which is why many big energy companies are paying close attention to the Paris talks. Several have sent executives to the New York summit, including China’s Sinopec.
For one thing, the panic of the global financial crisis that was the backdrop to the Copenhagen conference has subsided, even if the recovery is not robust.
For another, China has changed. The world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide was wary of committing to action on climate change in the Copenhagen talks, which began with no firm deal between Beijing and the second-biggest emitter, the US. Now, a new leadership in Beijing is vowing to crack down on the coal pollution choking its cities, while the country has turned into the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy.
China invested more in renewables than the whole of Europe in 2013, the first time this has happened. The Chinese total was $56bn, according to the UN, well ahead of Europe’s $48bn and the US’s $36bn.
Mr Obama has shown new interest in making climate action a hallmark of his presidency. Tough emissions limits on US coal plants he launched in June still face a welter of legal challenges, but are unlikely to be the last climate actions he takes.
….The cost of solar panels has since then plunged by about 80 per cent, while wind power costs have fallen 15 per cent, making these forms of energy the cheapest in some parts of the world.
That has bolstered another new phenomenon: the rise of a fossil fuel divestment movement that argues investors need to be mindful that most of the coal, oil and gas reserves in publicly listed companies need to stay in the ground if the world is to avoid a potentially dangerous 2 degrees Celsius of global warming from pre-industrial times.”