For over a decace US author Bill McKibben advocated for withdrawal from risky fossil energy investments. He contributes to publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, Outside, and Grist Magazine.
He has been writing books for 25 years. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989, and has been published worldwide in over 20 languages.
Transcript of his message, recorded in Berlin, October 2019, beside a Fridays-For-Future School Strike
Hi there, my name is Bill McKibben. I am a writer who works on climate change. I wrote the first book about global warming. It came out 30 years ago, so I’ve had a long time to pay attention to this area.
And what I can tell you is, you face energy choices, investment choices about the future — it’s important not to get fooled.
At the moment, the fossil fuel industry is trying to move people into natural gas and they are arguing that it’s better for the climate than coal and oil. We thought that that was true, 10 years ago, but science has become very clear in the last decade. Because when you build gas pipelines, frack for gas, you leak a lot of methane into the atmosphere. It turns out that it’s just as bad as burning coal. There’s no gain in building pipelines and LNG terminals and all that sort of thing.
As that becomes clearer, these investments are going to get riskier and riskier as time goes on. If you are building natural gas infrastructure now, it’s supposed to last 30 or 40 years. But there is no way that the world will be able to keep burning gas another decade. If we do anything like what the scientists tell us to do, we are going to have to make sure that those are closed down.
And believe me, civil society will make sure that they are closed down. That’s our job now. And having taken down much of the coal industry we are coming hard now after natural gas. It is probably the worst investment you could make going forward.
And so we hope very much that instead you all will pick up on where the smart money has heading for the last few years – that’s straight into the renewable sector, where costs are plummeting every month, where it gets more and more possible to imagine a future that runs on sun and wind and storage batteries. That’s where the world is going. Don’t miss out on that shift.