The race to zero is on
Are you in?
The 2020’s are arguably one of the most important decades for climate change and action. We have one environment, one planet, one home but… for how much longer? What are we doing? What can we do? And what will happen? More questions than answers but that’s the start for you… How will the end unfold?
Answers, a sense of dread, hope… whatever it may be, don’t let it stop here. Look beyond what you know, learn more, do more. We have one environment, one planet, one home.
Tzeporah Berman: The global treaty to phase out fossil fuels
Miscontrusion, deception or just plain lies, it is difficult to give away our greatest and most scarce resource that we hold: no not oil, our trust. Tzeporah Berman, like many of us, trusted the governments of the world to negotiate a treaty that would be effective in the fight against climate change, because that’s what we were told or rather made believe.
“I will never forget the day that I sat with the Paris Agreement and I searched for the words fossil fuels, oil, gas, coal. They didn’t appear.”
– Tzeporah Berman
Tzeporah Berman explains her journey to create the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation treaty initiative; a framework created by a group of academics, advocates, scientists and former diplomats, so countries can negotiate a wind down of fossil fuels in a way that is fair, in a way that is equitable.
For decades, climate policy has been designed on a theory that we are going to reduce demand. It’s happening but not fast enough. Market distortion, the influence of the oil and gas industry we all know all too well about them. But we were always told “in the future”… technology that is cost competitive and scalable will be available ‘in the future’. But when does the future become now?
Rebecca Henderson: To save the climate, we have to reimagine capitalism
Have you noticed how much your gas bill has increased in the last few years—it’s become quite an expense, right? Well, the truth is that gas is still not expensive enough. The problem lies within the fact that we’re letting fossil fuel firms, and also anyone who emits greenhouse gases, cause massive amounts of harm for which they are not obliged to pay.
As said by Rebecca Henderson, an economist and business school professor, free markets only work when prices reflect their fair, real costs. However, according to her, current prices are badly out of whack. In her example, generating $10 worth of coal-fueled power leads to $8 worth of harm to human health and another $8 to worth of climate damage—so the actual cost of using coal is nearly tripled when accounting for the damage it causes.
“Everyone who’s trying to build a clean economy has to compete with firms that are heavily subsidized by the destruction of our health and the degradation of our climate. This is not the capitalism I signed up for. This is not a market that is either free or fair.”
– Rebecca Henderson
As governments are still too late to the party, Rebecca argues that businesses should take matters into their own hands; by increasing prices to ensure proper care of greenhouse gases, companies can attract environmental investors and encourage the competition to do the same, effectively inviting the government to join in. Most importantly, this approach is proven to work, as such concepts have already been applied in Scandinavia—and great success followed. We have the technology and the resources to do this; the only factor left is courage.
Miao Wang, Alok Sharma and Nigel Topping: The race to net-zero emissions by 2050 is on. Can we count you in?
You’re at the center of a network—a node that, on average, gets to know at least a thousand people during the course of their life. So, that puts you two persons away from an exponentially larger audience. The things you do send an outward ripple effect throughout your network, like dropping a stone in a pond, or better, induce the butterfly effect.
“Don’t pay attention to anyone who tells you, “But it’s only got to four percent of the market.” The key question is: how quickly did that figure double from two percent to four percent?”
– Nigel Topping
Reaching the goal of net-zero emissions is a race we can win. According to Alok Sharma, the United Kingdom secretary for energy and industrial strategy, 45% of the world’s largest investors are committed to responsible investing. Over 1100 companies have committed to zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. We are moving in a good direction; but we need to do more.
This is where you come in: take the initiative and create a ripple effect in your network. Be the spark of change at your company or community. The point is; we know the shape of industrial revolutions—they take a long time to start, but then grow exponentially before reaching full market adaptation. As said by the UK’s climate action champion, Nigel Topping, the pathways to zero are visible in every sector, and although there remain problems to be solved, they are known and well defined, and therefore, solvable.