This Week in Sustainability – Choosing to Fail or Not

If you have not seen Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN yet, do not delay. Put it on your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, anywhere you do social media. 

In her short and powerful speech, she laid out the stark challenge for adults with chilling and unambiguous clarity. “The eyes of future generations are on you,” she said, “And if you choose to fail us… we will never forgive you.”

My fear? Adults revert to their default unconsciously patronizing or condescending, as we tend to do when complexity meets a child’s naked truth. But Greta is right and she is the voice of history judging us.

Greta is right and she is the voice of history judging us. Click To Tweet

I want my kids, all other children, animals and plants to have a vibrant happy future. Greta words are a battle call for parents and we meet it or not because, “change will happen whether you like it or not.” The inference? We must sacrifice much in the way we have learned to live in order to ensure the safe and happy lives of our children.

Activist recently and appropriately changed the phrase from #ClimateChange to #ClimateCrisis. Now we must change the phrase #WemustChange to #WemustSacrifice.

There is no other way.

SRI building…

There was lots of good news this week from investors who have had enough and are getting out of fossil fuel investments.

Like Apartheid and #BigTobacco before, sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) pressure, particularly threats of divestment from fossil fuels, is gaining traction.

CERES, a nonprofit organization working investors and companies on sustainability issues, reported that ahead of the UN Climate Summit, a record 515 institutional investors with some USD 35 trillion under management, “urged governments worldwide to step up action to tackle climate change and achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals,”

There are three key lessons of note from past SRI movements.

First, both the tobacco and apartheid divestment took a very long time to see results.

Second, while both involved extensive threats of and actual divestment from, it was but one of many pressure points that eventually forced change.

Finally, at least for tobacco, SRI initiatives, particularly divestment, helped pushed industry leading companies to go private. This cut them off from raising cheap money on the stock market, but it also effectively insulated them from the public reporting requirements and had them source financing from private, undivulged sources. This cant happen with fossil fuels.

Take aways?

SRI is but one source of power required to see meaningful change happen on the climate crisis. Immense and constant pressure needs to be maintained on fossil fuel companies to see that change happens quickly. Divestment and the threat of such is but one part of the solution.

Thanks to @ChristopherNFox and @CeresNews for their tweets  

Electric cars back in the news?

This Week in Sustainability reported over the last two weeks on the car show in Berlin. Cars are in the mix again this week when Alex Witzleben  (@AlexWitzleben ) reported the UK Labour party made a promise of £60bn in interest-free loans for electric cars should they be elected.

This may not be enough to get Labour back in office, but it’s a good idea. Personal cars are not going to go away soon, and even as we cannot depreciate the internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) fast enough, a grand subsidy for electric cars is a good place to start.  

A ICEV buy back similar to those used for guns may be more appropriate (with proceeds to be used for electric car purchase). ICEVs are, after all, proving to more destructive than personal arms. Moreover, there is a massive used ICEV resale market in Africa and Asia. A buy back scheme would ensure the potential lifetime carbon of retired and ICEVs don’t simply get shipped overseas like so much of our developed country trash already is.

Last Words

This week there are two last words one thanks to @AmericanIndian8 for their continued awesomeness and the other, a great graphic guide to homebased decarbonization from @kithodge.

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