It may seem a harmless request. We are asked, by such climate campaigners as 350.org and many other organisations, to stop investing in fossil fuel companies. This call for “divestment” has been taken up, with universities and individuals selling their shares. You might suppose this is expected to deprive the industry of working capital and so curtail its destructive activities, but you would be wrong.

Economists know that availability of customers, not investment, is what limits the use of fossil fuel and consequent CO2 emissions. Nowadays, the promoters of ...


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