According to the media, the January 2020 World Economic Forum meeting was one big Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg show. But, of course, the reality was different. According to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, the earth certainly survives; but we may not. Or at least not the way we live now. Our prosperity and an unbridled drive for economic growth and more wealth.
Climate: five things I learned in Davos
According to the media, the January 2020 World Economic Forum meeting was one big Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg show. Of course, the climate was the central theme, but the President of the USA in no way wanted to play the prophet of doom. Meanwhile, more and more asset managers are shunning the fossil sector in anticipation of the big bash that will end the draconian ecocide that the oil giants have been committing on a massive scale for decades.
The Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg told business and governments to make drastic and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row. To prevent a climate catastrophe of unprecedented scale and impact. According to a vast majority of climate scientists, we are currently heading for a scenario with an average global temperature increase of 3 degrees; twice as much as the upper limit agreed in Paris. The US president did not mention climate change and said we should ignore the “eternal prophets of doom” and “embrace the possibilities of tomorrow.”
So what did I get to learn about climate change at Davos? Is an apocalypse inevitable or are we heading anxiously toward a bright green future?
Earth certainly survives; we may not
The UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres thinks that with our way of “consuming” and the eternal focus on economic growth, we will not destroy the earth but possibly ourselves. Or at least the way we live now, including our prosperity and possibly with implications for our health and wellbeing. According to the Secretary-General, it is high time we changed course. We need to move away from the idea-fix that we need to become a better steward of the earth. And especially from our behavior of linear exploitation of the planet. Humans are nature and if we destroy nature and ecosystems, we also destroy ourselves.
see also the video with the UN Secretary General, in which he indicated that the Earth easily survives climate change, but we may not. According to Guterres, humanity has declared war on nature and nature is striking back intelligently, effectively and mercilessly.
Prince Charles had a similarly grim view of developments and the future. “Global warming, climate change and the devastating loss of biodiversity are, in his view, the greatest threats humanity has ever faced.” He had been doing his work as an environmentalist for years with “…our children and grandchildren in mind, because I don’t want to be accused by them that we did nothing but deny the problem or put it ahead of us; to future generations.”
Turning point in our history
One of the reasons why addressing climate change is so urgent, according to the majority of climate scientists and attendees at Davos, is that we are close to several “tipping points” that could accelerate global warming even more. One of these is the melting of the ice caps. Professor Gail Whiteman explained the ‘albedo effect’ and why an ice-free Arctic would be a disaster for the whole world.
Business as usual?
Many companies, other organizations and also most people seem to accept the risks. An understandable consequence of the way humans are neurologically conditioned. We are well able to perceive and react to large contrasts and sudden changes. But not to insidious movements and slow changes. Not even when they have catastrophic consequences. Just look at how the world prepares for the next pandemic. Not at all, if at all.
According to Andrew Liveris, former CEO of Dow Chemical and now a director at Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, the days of fossil fuels-the engine of the 20th century-are numbered.
That’s partly because investors will be pulling their assets out of fossil fuels in the coming years. A process that has already begun and accelerated with the introduction of measures for climate-related risks. Something that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney believes will be in place by the end of the year. A hefty tax on CO2 emissions is inevitable and will go up to a minimum of $125 per tonne of emissions.
According to Mark Carney, if you look at what’s happening in the financial world, it makes sense that you see the core of the financial system and more and more investors are asking themselves what information they really need and not just what is desired, but more importantly what is desirable. Ending our addiction to economic growth and fossil fuels is the logical consequence. More and more markets and societies will start to judge companies, organizations and governments on their integral impact on the planet and society. On our living environment and on nature. On the health and well-being of people. As a company or neoliberal government, are you on the right or wrong side? And if you are not on the right side, what are you going to do about it?
Scott Minerd, Global Chief Investment Officer of Guggenheim, believes that it is not enough to just get things moving. It’s remarkable and perhaps draconian that we only seem to be taking action now because there are now financial reasons to divest from fossil fuels. “While companies greenwash and talk about all the great things they are doing, there needs to be a stronger sense of implementing incentives to address this huge problem, with immense risks and impacts.”
His suggestion? “Put a price on carbon.”
Trees the solution?
One climate initiative launched at Davos received unanimous applause – even from Donald Trump. The 1t.org project aims to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world to remove carbon from the air and protect biodiversity. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, and of the major backers of the project support, thanked Trump for his participation in the initiative, saying, “Trees are a matter of two parties: the trees themselves as part of nature and humanity.” Also as part of nature.”
“Donald Trump’s farewell to Davos”. From Mother Earth he had already said goodbye!