Bean-counting toward sustainable living
This year, G.E.T. motivated an attempt, on my part, to study and summarize two very important reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is a group of scientists from everywhere, and they organize through the UN. Participants number in the thousands.
After being familiarized with these efforts among the world’s scientists to quantify, model and predict climate change, it is rather awkward to see efforts to negotiate a path forward so handily sunken by the dead weight of a few backward leaders. These negotiations at the COP 25 event in Madrid were years in the making and were held upon the premises reached by collective efforts toward scientific consensus that is unmatched in scale. Two weeks passed there, and we didn’t get the global trade scheme for emissions all involved had worked toward.
As stated in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (https://on.wsj.com/37MQmYK ), “Despite the setback to a global carbon market, an existing framework suffices for national and regional initiatives, say climate experts. The EU already has the world’s biggest emissions trading system, covering energy-heavy industrial plants. This month, the EU and Switzerland linked their carbon markets, signaling a way forward for other countries.”
The priorities on display by the Brazilian leadership under President Jair Bolsonaro and by delegates under Mr. Trump are at variance with the business community’s demands and attitude. These contrarians want nothing to do with the climate at all, it would seem, but they’re off kilter even from the viewpoint of the investment crowd. Finance folks need to know what to do with their money based on the best information available. Thus, the developments afforded by COP25 collapsing includes some good news. Woe is the elected official who dares to run afoul of American finance!
The WSJ business press goes on, “The turning point for business came in 2015, with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. More than 190 nations met to agree on a plan to tackle the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions, crystallizing the anxieties of governments and environmental activists the world over.
That has meant coming up with strategies to reduce carbon and improve transparency about their environmental practices—and it has meant opportunity, as companies find ways to monetize consumers’ rising demand for climate-friendly products.” (https://on.wsj.com/2Fxc8nq)
Monetizing things––just what America does best. This time, though, it’s you and your money that keep saying carbon ought to be reduced. In response, the business cloud has been seriously thinking for several years now about how to channel money into CO2 reductions that are actual, real, verifiable and repeatable. Carbon footprints and offsets all jibe with this directive. The base metric is the carbon dioxide equivalent, expressed as CDE, CO2e, or CO2eq. It essentially means to count all greenhouse gases by how many carbon-dioxide molecules they might match up to in a heating contest.
I share the sentiments among skeptics who analyze these happenings and see activity that is maturing very late and which remains a very small share of business and capital commitment. To date, the will of consumers to commit funds voluntarily to support carbon offsetting is also tiny. Mistrust probably holds that one back, and Messrs. Trump and Bolsonaro aren’t exactly reading the tea leaves. The show they put on will come to an end, eventually, but I would invite readers to peruse the extensively well-detailed documentation supporting the decisions of fund managers over trillions of dollars that are now concerned with what they call “ESG” (see graphic). This is investment and fund management with a fiduciary duty to support environmental, social, and governance goals set by those providing the money. They vary enormously, but the snail’s crawl forward on this one isn’t likely to go away.
My first foray into the formal carbon-project-concerned literature began with verra.org and with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Therein, you find hundreds of documents that carefully frame greenhouse gas-reduction projects by type so as to let people calculate their likely efficacy. It is an evolved system that probably will never be perfect, but I found nothing therein to indicate parallels to the outright disinterest in a sustainable future that was delivered in Madrid this year. It is serious, and it deserves your attention. Climate change antagonists do not.
J. D. Kaplan is a certified remote pilot and a former member of the I.T. crowd. He is a reader in the areas of bioelectromagnetics and cryptocurrency. For G.E.T. readers, Mr. Kaplan intends to profile blockchain activity within the energy sector. He lives and works at or above sea level near Boston, MA.