What scares fossil executives the most?

  1. A drop in share prices
  2. Sharks with necrotising fasciitis
  3. A broad alliance of activists determined to keep most fossil fuels in the ground

Prehistoric beasts armed with flesh-eating bacteria are pretty terrifying; but if you make a living selling ancient flammable plant material, the last option is what will keep you awake at night.

But this is what we need to do if we want to give ourselves a chance of getting out of this mess. We could spend the next decade arguing about whether we can burn 20% of it, or 1/3, and so on; or we could commit to making our world greener and safer as soon as humanly possible. It’s our choice, and it’s one that we’ll have to live with, so we should make it carefully.

If you’re one of those in charge of a large portfolio of Jurassic sunshine, you’ll notice your job has got a lot more difficult recently. People – regular, respectable people, not just those hippy types – are starting to question why your business model kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. What’s more, your old friend Economics has switched sides, meaning you must also explain why we should pay a premium to use your murder fuel. The shadow of renewables hangs over every decision you make, and you know in your heart that the expensive machinery you use to make your money will – sooner, or a little later – be expensive scrap metal.

Banks, investors, insurance companies, the stock market: all the cogs that have kept the fossil machine moving for so long are noticing a change in the wind. The last great pillar of the house that fossils built – a belief that massive use of fossil fuels is the only way – is showing some pretty impressive cracks.

So, let’s talk about how to make it fall.