Avoiding Stranded Assets (Chapter 4)


Can we avoid locking our investments into unsustainable economic activities?

Continued investments in a fossil fuel-centered energy system—and especially in such forms of “extreme energy” as tar sands, Arctic oil deposits, shale oil and gas, and mountaintop-removal coal—will lock societies onto a dead-end path. Scientists are warning that the bulk of the world’s proven fossil fuel resources can never be touched if the world wants to avoid runaway climate change.

Further investing in them—and thus enlarging the carbon “bubble”—exposes not only energy companies and fossil fuel exporters to incalculable risk, but also pension funds, municipal authorities, and others who invest in such companies for long-term financial returns. Absent alternative policies, the world may confront an unpalatable choice between climate chaos and economic doom.


Visionary management of policies, companies, and investments is needed to ensure that new investments are consistent with environmental health and resilience, and that economies are weaned, smoothly and efficiently, off investments that are harmful to sustainability.”

Ben Caldecott in "Avoiding Stranded Assets"


About Confronting Hidden 

Threats to Sustainability

We think we understand environmental damage: pollution, water scarcity, a warming world. But these problems are just the tip of the iceberg. Deeper issues include food insecurity, financial assets drained of value by environmental damage, and a rapid rise in diseases of animal origin. These and other problems are among the underreported consequences of an unsustainable global system.
In State of the World 2015, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. Eight key issues are addressed in depth, along with the central question of how we can develop resilience to these and other shocks. With the latest edition of State of the World, the authorities at Worldwatch bring to light challenges we can no longer afford to ignore.



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