Discover more from ESG on a Sunday
Week 50: We need to act now – and this is how!
In this issue: ▸ 5 years after Paris ▸ Talk is cheap, we need action ▸ Interview with Svein Tveitdal ▸ The problem and the solutions ▸ The oil lobby ▸ Let’s get positive, let’s focus on solutions!
I hope everyone is well and ready for another edition of ‘ESG on a Sunday’.
Five years after Paris
It’s been five years since the world’s leaders met in Paris and hammered out the terms of the Paris Agreement. But the world is still very far from on track to actually addressing global warming.
A recent report looks at what’s necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, and how much progress is happening across six key sectors.
The short version, given by Kelly Levin, one of the report’s authors, is: “We are falling woefully short of where we need to be to avoid the worst climate change impacts.”
She added: “Even the places where we thought we were doing pretty well, to be able to be aligned with a 1.5 trajectory, we still need to accelerate action really significantly.”
Read more in this very good Fast Company piece.
Talk is cheap – we need action
We get the same message everywhere. It’s time for action.
In Vox, they featured five youth activists who share their hopes for what’s next. It reads like a univocal cry for action. As one activist puts it: “The only thing that is missing is the actual will to do something, to change for the better.”
In The Guardian, UK shadow minister for climate change Matthew Pennycook also made a call for action. “When it comes to averting catastrophic global heating, the science is unequivocal: bold action is required, and it is required now,” Pennycook wrote.
Interview with Svein Tveitdal
The question is what action do we need to take. And who exactly needs to take it.
In a time of emergency, we need to ensure that we focus on the right issues and do not waste time on less efficient actions and agendas, no matter how noble they might be.
To get it right, we need to see things clearly. To take a step back and get an overview.
What is the status on climate change? What is the problem really? What are the solutions? And who needs to act? Those are the questions we need to answer.
I could think of no one better to ask those questions than Svein Tveitdal, former UNEP Director from Norway. Svein is still very active in the climate change debate, not least on Twitter. You can read my interview with him here:
The problem and the solutions
As Svein points out, we are heading towards between 3 and 5 degrees warming this century. This is not a recipe for climate emergency. It is a recipe for climate catastrophe.
As for why this is happening, Svein was also very clear:
“If you go deeper and ask why is it going in this direction, I believe the major problem and hindrance to reduce emissions is the fossil industry with their enormous lobbying capacity. You can blame them for that, but you seriously have to blame the politicians which they are lobbying also.”
As for the solutions, Svein highlighted two of them:
“Maybe the most important solution is to put a price on carbon, and by that shift the tax burden from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters. But there is another important solution, and that is to stop the deforestation. Today, 15–20% of all the emissions are coming from loss of biomass in the world.
So if you make the polluters pay this enormous price for the damage, and you take care of the forests as well, then you would have a quite quick reduction of global emissions in the size of 35–40%.”
The oil lobby
One of the things from the interview with Svein that really stuck with me, was how important it is that we stop the oil lobby. How damaging their activities are.
Sadly, the oil lobby is in fine form: The fossil industry is still heavily subsidised and receive four times as much as the renewable sector.
Today, oil companies are trying to rebrand themselves as part of the solution to the climate crisis, e.g. by saying that natural gas – a fossil fuel that emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – is helping to slow climate disruption by providing an alternative to coal.
Let’s get positive, let’s focus on solutions!
In general, I find it hard to stay positive when I think of the climate crisis.
But, as always, we would be wise to focus on solutions rather than problems.
In addition to Svein’s suggested solutions – a carbon tax and stopping the deforestation – there’s a long list of climate solutions. Most of which have been covered in the Project Drawdown study by Paul Hawken.
One crucial climate solution was missing on that list though. For some reason, sustainable investments were not even considered and evaluated. I’ve previously written about this. Had Hawken included this solution in his study, it would have come out on top as a key solution to combating climate change.
A video teaser…
That’s it for this week. Did (or will) you read my interview with Svein Tveitdal?
If not, maybe this teaser for the interview will convince you to read and share…
Have a great week!
Best regards, Sasja