Putting a Man on the Moon is unquestionably a triumph worth celebrating as “a giant leap” for Humanity, which we all did on July 20th 1969.
Born out of conflict, it awakened us to the fact that we have nowhere else to go!
There is also little question that Humanity’s awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of its Planet was awakened by that landing.
The speed with which that consciousness has surged in the face of today’s Climate Change challenge is remarkable. In the UK we have Greta T, Extinction Rebellion and Sir David Attenborough to thank for that.
But, and it is a big “but”, although we recognise that we must act to mitigate those challenges, our lifestyles remain unsustainable. This inaction makes Greta’s lament sound accurate: “We probably don’t even have a future anymore”.
To avoid the “catastrophic, irreversible consequences” which scientists repeatedly remind us will be the result of inaction, Humanity will have to be made, and helped, to make radical changes in its lifestyle.
Making those changes is a matter of urgency if we are to make sure Greta’s lament is not fulfilled: we are after all at war with Climate Change. To win that war only legislation will force the necessary change with the speed that is required.
Any legislation needs to do a minimum of three things:
- Give direction to the societal changes that are necessary to achieve sustainable lifestyles;
- Ensure its application at all levels of our societies; and
- Most important, facilitate the financing of the change.
A handful of governments (including ours) have already acted, and have committed their nations to net zero carbon emissions by 2050; but recent reports show that vested interests may well prevent those objectives being achieved.
In April the NGFS (Network for Greening the Financial System, Banque de France) concluded that the “Overall, worldwide economic costs from natural disasters have exceeded the 30-year average of USD 140 billion per annum in 7 of the last 10 years” and “Since the1980s, the number of extreme weather events has more than tripled.”
Yet in May the IMF reported that global coal, oil and gas “subsidies remained large at $4.7 trillion (6.3 percent of global GDP) in 2015 and are projected at $5.2 trillion (6.5 percent of GDP) in 2017. “The largest subsidizers in 2015 were China ($1.4 trillion), United States ($649 billion), Russia ($551 billion), European Union ($289 billion), and India ($209 billion).”
It is evident from this last report that while governments trumpet the dangers of Climate Change and set targets to beat it back, their policies take us in the opposite direction. This despite the increased frequency and cost of natural disasters.
As fossil fuels represent 57% of all CO2 emissions legislation targeted to enable a swift switch from those fuels to sustainable ones should be high on any agenda.
The IMF report gives reasons why this should be so: “Efficient fossil fuel pricing in 2015 would have lowered global carbon emissions by 28 percent and fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46 percent, and increased government revenue by 3.8 percent of GDP.”
Does it not follow that, if worldwide CO2 emissions could have been reduced by 28% in the four year period 2015 to 2018, then theoretically zero fossil fuel use could be reached in 15 to 20 years’ time? i.e. governments should be legislating for that switch and targeting 2035 to 2040 as zero emissions year, not 2050.
Is the corollary not that the trillions of USD freed up from the removal of subsidies should be used to subsidise the installation of sustainable energy generation across the globe?
Imagine what that would do for Humanity’s wellbeing and the war on Climate Change!
Without the right legislation now governments run the risk that their objectives will remain will-o’-the-wisps, as vested interests and fossil fuels continue to thwart their aims and pollute the Planet.
Editorial Note: for further information on these reports please go to:
For the definition of “subsidies” as used by the IMF (the real cost of using fossil fuels) see https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/05/how-much-does-world-subsidize-oil-coal-and-gas/589000/