There are currently five burning issues regarding climate change, and I’d like to see progress being made on all five at COP27 in Egypt this month. They can be expressed as follows, as actions for participants to take during the COP:
1. Delivery gaps – Close the gaps between currently committed plans and what is required to achieve the Paris 1.5 degrees ceiling on global warming. That ceiling is also often expressed in terms of achieving Global Net Zero (GHG emissions) by mid-century.
2. Biodiversity loss - Bring dialogues about climate change and about biodiversity loss closer together, to emphasise the need for further action on both, as they are mutually reinforcing issues, and action on biodiversity loss is part of the solution to climate change in most of the feasible pathways to a climate-stabilised future.
3. Loss and Damages – Increase the pressure on the countries that have historically contributed most to climate change, to acknowledge the moral debt they owe to countries that have contributed least to climate change, and to turn that acknowledgement into practical actions such as paying more into global financial transfer mechanisms to help the poorest countries to increase their engagement in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
4. Global Economic Modelling - Support and fund improvements in carrying out and publishing relevant economic modelling. For example, support furtherance of economic analyses to compare the economic outcomes of currently committed actions on climate change with outcomes from actions required to achieve the Paris 1.5 degrees ceiling. This will provide evidence of the size of the extra global investments required to close the gap, and the economic benefits of doing so.
5. Tipping Points - While Paris 1.5 remains an important target ceiling, it should also be recognised that missing that target (as seems likely) should not provide an excuse to drop targets for Global Net Zero by mid-century. This is because every 0.1 degree of warming avoided represents avoided damage and costs. Further economic analyses could put numbers to this (see the point above). Also, every 0.1 degree of warming takes the world closer to several climate tipping points scientists have been warning about for several decades. While there is no certainty about when such tipping points will be reached, this should give sufficient reason to apply the Precautionary Principle and err on the side of stabilising global warming too soon rather than too late. Existing financial and economic modelling is generally very weak at addressing climate tipping points, and this is one of the reasons there remains a large gap between committed actions and those required for climate stabilisation by mid-century.
Have in mind that "perfection is the enemy of the good", and that the whole of humanity, and the rest of the natural world, is depending on you to reconcile your various interests (eg personal, local, national, professional) with the need for a just transition to a sustainable future for everyone. Squaring that circle is going to be harder for some people than for others, but I hope you will all show that you can listen as well as talk, and negotiate with your supporters as well as with those with whom you disagree. This is part of how the human family will come through the climate crisis stronger rather than weaker.
The Planetary CFO - working towards a sustainable World Balance Sheet.