The climate movement can succeed. In time ?
US advisor on sustainability and author Paul Gilding recently published on his blog a compelling, fantastic and stunning piece on how victory is at hand for the climate movement. You might believe this is some hyper optimistic hype.
However, Gilding keeps piling arguments in his article ; arguments that I have developed on this very blog and on Cleantechies for now six years and almost 1,500 articles. Indeed two momentum are being built as you read.
Climate change is becoming more and more serious, and the climate movement is winning bigger and bigger battles. Can it just win the war in time ?
As Gilding notes :
That is the reality of the climate movement – it is massive, global, powerful, and on the right side of history.
Regarding the article, it’s simple, I urge you to read it in full. Be warned, it’s quite lengthy but it is really worth your time. However, if you haven’t got much time, lucky you, I took a few extracts and developed them below.
His summary of the situation is quite impressive :
- The science shows how we are not just failing to slow down climate change, but are in fact accelerating towards the cliff.
- In response, mainstream organisations focused on the global economy are becoming increasingly desperate in their calls for action, fearing the economic consequences if we don’t. They are arguing that the only way the world can avoid the risk of breakdown is to transform the economy urgently and dramatically.
- Our capacity to do so is now real and practical, with the technologies required already being deployed at very large scale and at competitive cost. The size of the business opportunity now on offer is truly breathtaking.
- In response, the financial markets are waking up to the transformation logic – if the future is based in renewables and these are price competitive without subsidy, or soon will be, the transformation could sweep the economy relatively suddenly, even without further government leadership.
- This then puts in place an enormous and systemic financial risk – in particular investments in, or debt exposure to, the multi-trillion $ fossil fuel industry.
- This risk is steadily being increased by activist campaigns against fossil fuel projects (worsening each projects’ financial risk) and arguing for fossil fuel divestment (putting investors reputation in play as well).
- In response investors and lenders will reduce their exposure to fossil fuels and hedge their risk by shifting their money to high growth renewables.
The author believes that we have to stop using coal, natural gas and oil within as little as twenty years. He also believes this can be done. Gilding concludes his article by stating :
(f)or the first time, we can envisage victory in the decades long fight on climate change. The science is clear, the technology is ready, significant sections of the elite are on side and the financial momentum is with us.
And this time, the economics is playing on the same side as the environment. Just in time.
You might believe this really can’t be done as fossil fuels industry keep raking trillions in profits and subsidies. But they also keep raking more and more problems :
The recent oil spill in Arkansas is the latest thorn in the flesh of US Big Oil. At a time where they are trying to have the Keystone XL pipeline approved, another environmental disaster doubled of a population one.
Going for Arctic oil, seen as the next frontier for the industry has seen so foolhardy that Total stated it wouldn’t go for it, Shell stopped trying for the year and last but not least, Lukoil said a resounding ” Nyet ” to it.
Meanwhile, renewables are literally booming. My update on the triple crisis has made that clear and since then, momentum has just kept on growing. Related technologies are also becoming better and better and at cheaper and cheaper prices.
The only question I am asking myself regarding Gilding’s article is ” Can we really make it happen in time ? “ Twenty years might seem short, but given the urgency of the situation, will this be enough ?