Net-zero commitments by 2050 from companies and countries are encouraging, but not enough. We must make dramatic changes by 2030. Climate change and rising carbon concentrations are cumulative. This makes straight-line abatement plans or back-end loaded solutions not fit for purpose, less likely to work, and ultimately much more expensive. We need to act decisively today, in this decade. Kicking the can to the 2040s is insufficient, unacceptable, and far too risky. The only time to act is Now.
Our climate challenge is growing exponentially, making early steps worth much more. Imperfect action today beats perfect action tomorrow, so, let’s raise the ambition of the early years and stop trying to be “efficient” and “cost-effective” at a time of crisis. The COVID-19 crisis engendered hundreds of vaccine efforts, an “inefficient” response, wasting R&D money and effort, but the right response. We are more resilient with many possible solutions instead of waiting for the “perfect” vaccine to scale up.
We already have the major technologies we need, and some Green groups estimate we can cut US carbon in half this decade. Energy efficiency, clean energy, and electrification are available at attractive prices through market forces in spite of inconsistent policy and reversals. Waiting for perfect technologies, silver bullets to bail us out is unrealistic. There may be breakthroughs in atmospheric carbon removal and decarbonizing difficult sectors like cement manufacture or air travel. We should explore those options while also moving fast-forward using known methods.
Without a perfect, single solution, we need change on many dimensions, including regenerative farming and grazing, stopping deforestation and loss of carbon sinks. We now have policy support, but executive orders are easy to reverse; let’s make lasting change at state and local levels. As investors, we use our voice and capital to intentionally redirect corporate conduct, operationally align with net-zero commitments, change banking, insurance and other “enabling” industry groups, and support policies pricing carbon high enough to precipitate immediate transformation. Corporate capture of policy-making is hurting us all. Let’s update and replace aging systems, build efficient, clean new ones, and change our supply chains too.
As consumers, we are economic actors with power, though behavior change alone is an insufficient solution. Let’s eat healthier, support regenerative agriculture, fly less, insulate and electrify our homes, and be politically active, educating and telling our leaders we want more done soon. Just as we’ve monitored COVID statistics, let’s urge news purveyors to have a banner headline item – “Today on the Climate Front” – updating progress in our race to the top.
The climate is in crisis; let’s act like it. Our front-end loaded action plan for this cumulative fight starts this Earth day!