Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Markets Are Proving They’re Ready for Clean Energy

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Carl Pope

Rarely has the chasm between global reality and global diplomacy loomed larger. Over the past several months the urgency of the climate threat has exploded as tipping points we thought were decades away pound at our doorways; we suffer on a daily basis the hottest weather in hundreds of thousands of years; an entire American city vanishes in flames, while one in Libya vanishes beneath a crumbling dam after a stronger-than-normal storm. At the same time, the economic benefits of rapid decarbonization have been spectacularly on display across the world, as China uses its investments in electric vehicles to challenge Europes engineering finest automotive engineering at the recent Munich auto show.

The week of September 21, 2023 signals the opening round of climate diplomacy season, as the UN General Assembly and the Secretary Generals Climate Summit convene in New York. Climate scientists just issued their stocktake of the horrifying state of the national commitments made since the Paris Agreement; it revealed that existing pledges barely nudge us towards the essential 2030 benchmark of cutting emissions almost in half.

Indias leadership of the just concluded G20 had to stretch hard to extract verbal global support for a vital annual tripling of global investments in renewable energy to replace coal, gas and oil and the implementation commitments remained on the table. Its not that we cant afford it.

Renewable electrons are cheaper than those from polluting hydrocarbons but the monopoly utilities that would lose out in an efficient market for clean electricity are not budging. Nor have the unbelievable profits of the oil industry prompted them to stop venting and flaring so much of the fossil methane they extract that so called natural gas—which they tout as a cleaner alternative to coal is in practice, often just as dirty.

If we want better climate survival odds, we better tell our leaders that it is time to act on everything we can agree on. If its good for the climate and the economy, it needs to happen – now.

Climate diplomacy needs to stop defending the fossil past, and instead accelerate the clean energy future that the market is ready for. It should start this week in New York.

A veteran leader in the environmental movement, Carl Pope is the former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club. He’s now the principal advisor at Inside Straight Strategies, looking for the underlying economics that link sustainability and economic development and serves as a Senior Climate Advisor to former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has served on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause, Public Interest Economics Inc, and Zero Population Growth.

Mr. Pope is also the author of the books: Sahib, An American Misadventure in India and Hazardous Waste In America. Carl Pope is the co-author with Michael Bloomberg of Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet. How to attack climate change as a series of manageable challenges, each with a solution that can make our society healthier and our economy stronger.

“To learn more about Carl’s views on the environment, energy and climate, read Climate of Hope which he has co-authored with former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and which can be purchased online or from your local book store.

Caption: Wake up sign

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