St. Patrick is on a Mission – #MissionFinance 1.5 C

Dublin, Climate Innovation Summit, 6-8 November 2018

We must reduce carbon emissions in the next 12 years and decarbonise the way we live, our society and economy by 2030. “Or what?” – you ask.

Or we shall overshoot the 1.5 C level of ‘safe’ global warming within which we can still manage to deal with the changes and consequences. It seems short, those 12 years. Can we do it?

Yes, we can. How much does it cost? Round 2.5 per cent of global GDP. Is that a lot?  Not really. It will cost way more later, when we will have to deal with the damage and consequences of global warming overshoot.

St. Patrick cannot help us, nor the shamrock. We have to do it on our own, we have to be smart and brave and stop thinking that it’s not possible to decarbonise the way we live now. It is possible to live differently – imagine the world we’d live in 2050. What will we eat and travel? Where will the energy we need come from? Imagine a technologically advanced and innovative world, with no fear, scarcity or austerity. We have the knowledge and there is enough money, the only question is where it goes and what kind of investments we make today. The scientists gathered in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change say it is possible – that is the IPCC P1 LED scenario, one of the four suggested decarbonisation scenarios, which envisages a rapid decrease of global carbon emissions after 2020 due to reduced energy demand and transition to much more energy efficient technologies, practice and behaviour. That is a smart development scenario that we, as a society can and must afford.

Transformative explorer

Dennis Pamlin is a senior advisor at the Research Institute Sweden (RI.SE) or transformative explorer as he says. He gives another approach to the climate change problem. “The carbon emissions are not the problem, people who think we cannot live differently and drastically reduce them are the problem.”  His approach is – let’s work on people’s cognition. How we can change people and inspire them to imagine a better, smarter world we’d live in 2050 on our beautiful blue planet with more than 10 billion people? Let’s spark and encourage positive visions, creations and innovations that, instead of in small incremental steps, lead us to a fundamental systemic change. We must be ready to accept some risks. There are tools available, like the CRAM or Climate Risks for Asset Managers database that process data about climate risks for financial institutions and investors. What is important is to align all the investment plans with 1.5 C and to stop investing into fossil fuel dependent infrastructure.

Can we finance that? Yes. The main question is where does our money go? There are no excuses for carbon-based investments anymore. All carbon-based assets will lose their value in the near future. All the investments of pension funds, development funds and banks must be decarbonised, gradually but firmly. There must be mandatory disclosure of investment funds explaining where the money is invested, into what kind of assets and how it supports carbon emissions and impacts climate change. The investments of European institutions are moving from financing carbon-intensive infrastructure towards financing a transition into a low-carbon society. Ireland is the fourth country in the world that issued its first green bond and raised more than €3 billion. That sends a very clear message to investors about how Ireland sees the future. Well done St. Patrick!

Mission Innovation Countdown to 100 low-carbon solutions

Right there, at the Climate Innovation Summit in Dublin, Dennis Pamlin launched the mission.innovation call for a 100 solutions with avoided emissions of at least 10 million tonnes of annual carbon emissions by 2030. There is a methodological framework available on how to do it and how to account for avoided emissions. Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative that gathers 23 states and European Commission, which want to dramatically accelerate global innovations and investments into clean energy and make it affordable and reliable for all.  The MI gathers states with 60 per cent of the global population, 70 per cent of GDP and 80 per cent of global investments into research and clean energy. Jump-in, fasten your seatbelts, fly into the decarbonisation mission! Do not give new concessions, do not issue permits for seabed hydrocarbon research nor for exploitation of new onshore oil fields. This is a bad deal for our future.

The scariest economy professor in Europe

Another person inspired me a lot at the Summit. She is Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Chair in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) and Founder and Director of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She is the author of ‘mission-oriented innovation’, a document that is used as the base for Europe’s strategic development, investments into research and sustainable future, and as a foundation of the Horizon Europe programme. The mission has one bold goal that unites all the actors who normally do not collaborate or who are in conflict or just not interested into each other. Just like in the 1960’s, President Kennedy united the USA around “Fly me to the Moon and back” mission and made it, today Prof. Mazzucato strongly advocates a Mission for Europeans and calls it “Saving the Planet”. Decarbonising society. According to the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 C we have 12 years. Or only 11 more harvests, winters, summers and birthdays.

A story about Rotterdam

And finally, the main organiser of the Summit, Kirsten Dunlop,  Chief Executive Officer of EIT Climate-KIC, the knowledge and innovation community, connecting more than 300 organisations from Europe and the world into an ecosystem of climate innovators, researchers, advanced cities and entrepreneurs needed for a transition to a decarbonised society. I’ll tell you a story Dunlop told us as her final word in Dublin. The story goes like this:

Rotterdam, 1920, a lush and powerful port of northern Europe. A visitor is coming and asks to see the Mayor of that rich and successful port, the visitor is a prophet. The prophet said to the Mayor that he can say with a 99 per cent certainty what will happen to the city of Rotterdam in the next 25 years. Here is what the prophet said: “A huge financial crisis is coming, there will be an economic recession, the rise of fascism, persecution of Jews, Hitler’s invasion and a complete devastation of the city and the port with huge human losses, many people will die in a series of attacks on the city. Now, when you know all that, Mr. Mayor, what will you do?” He could do nothing.

And what shall we do?

What shall we do today, when we know with 99 per cent certainty all we know from the three reports[1] published in 2018, crucial for the survival of man as a species on Earth?

What do we do with the money available for investments? Where does it go, into brown or green and blue? The responsibility is on us, our generation, right here, right now. Prof. Mazzucato says “The Mission“. European Commission Vice President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič said at the Summit – the Europeans are on the mission of saving human life on Earth. Kirsten Dunlop repeated many times – for that, we need a social, not industrial revolution, we need biotechnology innovations and transformation of the society, we need to change the way we live. We can say that the governments, politicians and scientists should have the lead. But each of us is a part of society and makes a stake in that social revolution with the everyday choices we make.

…we are already doing it, join us!

What I heard inspired me and gave me new energy to continue doing what we do at Terra Hub and ZEZ, the Green Energy Cooperative. Engaging citizens through creative exercises like innovation challenges, Climathons and Adriatic Plastic Challenge bootcamp, accelerators for cities, crowdsourcing ideas and co-creation of development, strengthening of the ecosystem of organisations that deal with low-carbon development and innovations – exactly these are the tools for the socially driven revolution we need. How can we explain to ordinary people concepts that can be complex and abstract such as algorithms, artificial intelligence and smart systems that know everything about everybody, internet of things, big data, blockchain and cryptocurrencies? How to familiarise people with them so they understand and they trust us, not the sceptics and populists who offer “panem at circenses” – consumerism, fear, easy money and chip tricks?

The only way is to explore and co-create solutions together, that we tell stories and show good examples – what does it mean, how can it be done? ‘Green’ must become mainstream, that is a fact and there is no alternative. My favourite, David Bowie, had a song “Five years”. Let’s be as creative, innovative, brave and avant-garde like he was, I’m sure he would help us lead the social revolution we need and would make a song “Twelve years” if he was still alive.

For a series of informative, inspirational and expert articles on financial instruments, risk assessment, data disclosure and innovative solutions follow #MissionFinance, click to Climate Innovation Summit and follow the EIT Climate-KIC. Be the change!

[1] The Fifteenth special report of the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Special Report 15 ili SR15

WWF Living Planet Reporta  on 60% of species extinction on Earth

The Progress Report of the Our Oceans Conference, Bali 29-30 October, 2018.

 
Location
Ireland
Related Goal
Goal 10: Mainstream climate in financial markets
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