We all are very concerned about Planet Earth’s poor health right now. Pundits agree there is no quick and easy fix. I advocate we need to adapt before we deplete the finite resources on our planet placing global wealth before health, a topic I plan to explore.
Accomplishing a net zero world order by 2050 has been the primary topic at two key conferences in the last thirty days. Decarbonization of the world by 2050 where we have removed as much of the carbon emissions we produce, to effectively combat climate change is contingent on many factors. I am still struggling to get a better understanding of what was accomplished at the World Bank & IMF meeting in Washington D.C. and the Glasgow United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26). My interpretation: There is a huge gap between meeting rhetoric (a.k.a. greenwashing) and reality, as well as global collaboration between governments, companies, investors and consumers. The clock is ticking! I am cautiously optimistic we still have a chance to alter the course of heating the planet which threatens human civilization. It will take a combination of investment in green technology and a shift in human behavior. Both meetings underscored the importance of changing climate finance in “making or breaking” the 2050 decarbonization goals. Specifically:
- Climate change has primarily been driven by richer countries with advanced economies. They will need to help subsidize the emerging markets, poorer countries, with the capital investment they promised for decarbonization. To date most have underdelivered their agreements.
- Private institutions like pension funds and insurance companies have been wary about investing their stakeholder’s money in poorer nations prone to political instability and credit risks. The good news is a coalition of financial institutions with collective assets of $130 trillion pledged in Glasgow to create a fund to curb emissions and support industries implementing measures to limit climate change.
Candidly, I believe the COP26 conference in Glasgow ended on the whole with the same old tepid tune. Outside of striking a deal to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases, 200 countries pledged to return next year with stronger plans to curb emissions this decade to hold global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and for wealthier nations to double their funding to protect nations vulnerable to the climate crisis. I am concerned all the engagement about climate finance is for the most part rhetoric and will not totally filter down towards a net zero world 2050. Why? The burning of coal consumed in the production of steel and concrete, the utilization of natural gas and oil for electricity, transportation and heat are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The demand for these energy sources is driven by human activities – for instance the way we construct our infrastructure, heat our commercial buildings and homes, manufacture our consumer goods, fuel our cars/transportation, produce our food, engage in our leisure activities (e.g., travel, recreation, entertainment, etc.). Overall, the demand for energy is expended by businesses looking to yield profits. True there are innovative companies and municipalities driving sustainable solutions as a way to fix climate change, but to make major strides towards a net zero 2050 world humanity will have to adapt its behavior as it relates to where and how it lives. Otherwise, global wealth versus health will continue to prevail and debilitate Planet Earth’s health.
In my next post, I will explore how coronaviruses are another leading byproduct of wealth versus health.
I agree that climate meetings often product more rhetoric than results.