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Week 36: A Reformation Proposal to Growth Religion
A letter of indulgence. All of us have at least one. Issued by the very system that holds the divine truth about the fate of humanity. There is only one way to salvation. Growth. In the later years even labelled as green, or sustainable. Yet, growth it is.
A priesthood of growth religion, merchants, educational institutions, and politicians, control the domain of this global religion that makes all other monotheistic religions peripheral noise. In the high castles of growth faith there are no doubters. Believers are trained at an early age to control their emotions, repeat beliefs, and point at all other alternatives as the Stone Age voyage or even worse, loss of individual freedom.
The founding fathers of growth religion with a generation of disciples after them have managed to hypnotise the masses with a simple thus as we know, very effective mantra. It is all about the individual. You are unique, you as an individual are precious, your freedom to express your individual preferences is sacred. You alone matter. Salvation is in your own hands; you make a difference. The appeal, as you can imagine, has biblical proportions, least to say.
Over the years to maintain control of thought, which is as we know centrepiece in any dogmatic enterprise, growth religion built religious schools all over the world, preaching the gospel packaged in shapes and forms that later serve the clergy. You can of course get a PhD in this religion and climb the religious career ladder.
This religion has managed to do something all other religions failed to do throughout history. Instead of seeing its believers as sinners, it sees them as sheep with individual freedoms and the highest, leading to salvation, thing. Brilliant way of using emotional appeal, while repeatedly reiterating that growth religion is solely based on logic and rationality. Separating an individual from the group, family, tribe, or nation, has been and is a cornerstone in this case. It worked and still works. People are not citizens, members of the group or nations, they are individuals, consumers, users of services this religion can provide. It is far easier to control the faith that way.
Reformation that many other religions went through by force rather than by their own will is not welcomed in this religion. Yes, certain beliefs can be moderated over periods, and clergy do allow interpretations, but the core centrepiece of faith, growth is sacred. Over the last couple of years, a new interpretation has gained more and more attention and it targets the core faith centrepiece growth and dresses it with colours of green, sustainable, climate savvy. This new interpretation, rather than true reformation, focuses on a belief that growth can deliver salvation even in the areas where growth religion itself created destruction beyond measure. It is called win-win. What that means and who wins what and how and for what is unclear, but as in all religions it depends on how much you believe.
Now the growth religion is under severe pressure. The promise of win-win seems to be flooded, burned, overheated, impoverished and very much global. The world is way off track to tackle climate change and remains headed for a temperature rise of up to 2.6C and must take urgent action, the first comprehensive UN stocktake of global efforts to limit warming concludes.
Taking stock: the world is way off track
The global stocktake is a process for countries and stakeholders to see where they’re collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement – and where they’re not. It’s like taking inventory. It means looking at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working together to chart a better course forward to accelerate climate action. The stocktake takes place every five years, with the first-ever stocktake scheduled to conclude at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) at the end of this year.
The global stocktake is unfolding in a critical decade for climate action. Global emissions need to be nearly halved by 2030 for the world to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In addition, transformational adaptation is also needed to help communities and ecosystems cope with the climate impacts that are already occurring and are expected to intensify. Every day, we see the devastating impacts of climate change, from raging wildfires to catastrophic floods to more frequent and intense heatwaves, as well as food and water scarcity, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss.
In March this year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest Synthesis Report, which summarizes all the scientific reports it has published during its sixth assessment cycle. This marked the first comprehensive IPCC report in nine years. It highlighted just how far off-track the world is, reinforcing last year’s UN Climate Change report, which stated the combined climate pledges of 194 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.
The global stocktake is not the only key deliverable of COP28. The conference also needs to make progress in several other workstreams: hammering out the details of the loss and damage finance facility, driving towards a global goal on finance, accelerating both an energy and a just transition, closing the massive emissions gap, just to name a few. More here.
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Human limits: the 31.5C threshold
Life-threatening periods of high heat and humidity will spread rapidly across the world with only a small increase in global temperatures, a study has found, which could cause a sharp acceleration in the number of deaths resulting from the climate crisis.
The extremes, which can be fatal to healthy people within six hours, could affect hundreds of millions of people unused to such conditions. As a result, heat deaths could rise quickly unless serious efforts to prepare populations were undertaken urgently, the researcher said.
Normally, the human body cools itself by producing sweat, which evaporates and takes heat away. But when humidity is high, evaporation is reduced. The study used a limit based on experiments on people showing that when combined heat and humidity, as measured by so-called wet bulb temperature, passes 31.5C, the body is no longer able to cool itself.
The researchers called this threshold “non-compensable heat stress”, as sweating cannot compensate for the extreme conditions. Without cooling aids, such as cold water, fans or air conditioning, death is likely within hours.
The research analysed data from thousands of weather stations across the world to show that 4% had already experienced at least one six-hour period of this extreme heat stress since 1970, with the frequency of such events doubling by 2020. However, these have been confined to date to hot places, including the Gulf in the Middle East, the Red Sea and the North Indian Plain, where people expect extreme heat.
The analysis, which also used climate models, shows that extreme heat stress will spread rapidly to other regions with global heating of only 2C. The climate crisis has already raised global temperatures by about 1.2C. At 2C, more than 25% of the weather stations would suffer the extreme heat stress once a decade on average.
The east coast and Midwest regions of the US and central Europe, including Germany, are among places that would experience the arrival of unprecedented heat stress conditions. In places that are already hot, like Arizona, Texas and parts of California, periods of extreme heat stress would become annual events at 2C.
Now at this stage, some people would say, yes but all of it is not so dark, we still have a chance. Yes, we do, but we need to change the belief system, reform the religion at its core. We cannot, as we have done so far, try to manage consequences of the beliefs that have in themselves not changed. So, in honour to that, here is a reformation proposal.
REFORMATION PROPOSAL TO GROWTH RELIGION
Rewrite legal documents, corporate charters, of companies, private and public, defining individual responsibilities of CEO and the Board in relation to environmental and social impact they create through their business operations, product, and services.
Implement climate-claw back mechanisms for all bonuses for public entities where such schemes are in place and solely based on financial metrics. If public entity does not meet it public climate targets or claims, bonuses paid out to board and senior management are recalled.
Implement new measures of growth. For every growth percentage introduce legal obligation for entities, private and public to issue climate growth declaration, explaining in detail how financial growth will address impact on climate that very growth created in absolute terms. Failure to comply 50% tax penalties on revenues generated by company.
Denounce GDP as measure of national progress.
Legally prohibit quarterly financial reporting on the global stock-markets with immediate effect.
Regulate all national and private oil and gas companies to offset 20% of their profits and invest these into renewable energy development of their choice. Implement 80% tax penalty on all profits for those choosing not to do so.
Reform economics and finance education system so it includes compulsory environmental and social courses from ground level to higher education.
Implement de-growth tax subsidies for companies that are transforming their business models and are willing to downsize.
Invest 10% of tax generated revenue into childcare, primary education, and health services.
Implement tax penalties for gender inequality for public and private enterprises in relation to revenue generated by entity.
Yes, all of it is not dark and we can still do it.
Have a great reformation week!
This week on ESG Radio
As China charges ahead in the battery race, dominating the market with significant and heavily subsidised production, what does this mean for the future of recycling?
We don't know what we'll be able to be recycle. We don't know to what extent, and we actually don't know how these different types of batteries that have been produced will look going forward. Will we have capacity to recycle them?
Also this week:
Whilst the FT and Bloomberg have labeled this the hottest year on record, the media has generally focussed on the consequences and not the culprits. And the public response? Mostly passive.
Some positive news. Nairobi, Kenya, hosted the inaugural African Climate Summit. With only 4% of global carbon emissions, Africa experiences significant impacts from climate change. The summit focused on collaboration, seeking both international support and local solutions.