Personally, I don’t think it’s an either-or choice.

First of all, there is a great deal of money and employment avaialble in the green energy field.

Secondly, if we despoil the planet completely, money will no longer be available at all, there may be no people to use it anyway, and we’ll ask ourselves why we prioritized a short-term, arbitrary construct like money over our very survival.

Nevertheless, John Fullerton does a great job outlining the challenges.

The big choice: money or planet?

by John Fullerton

There is an alternative to the choice between ecological disaster and economic destruction. But we need efforts that go beyond CSR, an unprecedented commitment and shared sacrifice.

The big choice: economic destruction or ecological destruction?

A $20tn (£12.7tn) “externality” presents civilisation with a big choice: economic destruction or ecological destruction, both with chilling global security implications. It’s a big challenge, but one we can solve.

The Carbon Tracker Initiative recently released an illuminating report, Unburnable carbon – are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble? It addresses the role that the value of corporate managed oil, gas, and coal reserves will play on the climate crisis and visa versa.

What the report does not make explicit is the apparent big choice: either we must absorb a $20tn write-off into our already stressed global economy over the next decade, or we will implicitly accept civilisation-transforming climate change.

The report details three salient facts: in order to reduce the risk of exceeding two degrees celsius warming to a 20% chance, our carbon-burning budget for the next 40 years is 565 GtC02. Total proved fossil fuel reserves are estimated at 2795 GtC02, nearly five times the remaining budget, implying 80% of these reserves should be left in the ground. Seventy-four percent of these reserves are state owned, while 26% is owned by the 100 largest listed coal companies and 100 largest listed oil and gas companies.

From the market value of the public companies, we can extrapolate the total estimated market value of these reserves to be $27tn (£17tn).

A cap on carbon emissions designed to limit warming to two degrees will mean sovereign states and public corporations must strand 80% of their $27tn of proved reserves and related assets, a loss exceeding $20tn.

If we incur a write-off of this magnitude, the risk that our fragile and interconnected global economy would collapse is high.

Fossil fuel intensive economies and investors would be severely damaged, triggering a deep and prolonged recession. Some nations, like Saudi Arabia where energy represents 75% of government revenues, and Venezuela (50% of government revenues), would face economic devastation leading to widespread social unrest.

The markets are ignoring this risk today, as the Carbon Tracker report makes clear. They have been given no reason to do otherwise — the US House of Representatives recently defeated a resolution which simply said “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” It is no wonder that American Electric Power announced that it is shelving plans for the nation’s most prominent coal-plant-directed carbon sequestration initiative until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward.

Rising fossil fuel stock prices indicate that the markets assume we will blow past the 2 degree warming limit without blinking, while scientists estimate that three billion people will lose access to fresh water at four degrees warming. Were private and government investment in sequestration technologies of a scale that mattered and tangible signs of revolutionary progress in those technologies evident, one could conclude the market is not predicting ecological destruction.

However, neither is the case, and in fact the promise of carbon sequestration technology fix is diminishing as reality sets in.

There is an alternative to the big choice between ecological destruction and economic destruction, but it is not simply hopeful corporate social responsibility programmes and growing the green economy. A viable plan will entail real costs, unprecedented commitment, and shared sacrifice.

Many economic models seek to estimate the cost of climate change mitigation, often concluding the costs are trivial in comparison to the costs of inaction. If such models focus on aggressively limiting carbon to 350 parts per million as the science now demands without presuming carbon sequestration will solve the stranded asset problem entirely, the predictable costs get quite scary.

The portion of the $20tn cost potential that will be written off depends upon unknowable developments in carbon sequestration technology. Prudence suggests that we should plan on incurring at least half of this potential loss, and get serious about developing and implementing policies to limit carbon pollution. The choice of burning Russian sovereign coal or Exxon shareholder oil presents complex political, financial, social, and security challenges.

Mitigating the unpleasant consequences boils down to a macro capital allocation decision. We must of course invest aggressively in clean technologies of all kinds. At the same time, we must accelerate and scale up the tremendous potential of low technology paths — like avoided deforestation and grassland restoration — to sequester carbon.

We must also, though, remove subsides and divest from our destructive fossil fuel based energy, transportation, and industrial agriculture systems, and from the destabilising and counterproductive speculation of the Wall Street financial system. We must choose to scale back our Cold War military infrastructure and wasteful government “bridges to nowhere”. The energy system transition demands a truly unprecedented, focused commitment of private and public investment resources and public policy that supports it.

It’s time for true leadership from the richest half billion people whose consumption and investment decisions will determine the fate of civilisation. It’s time we awaken to the burden we bear.

John Fullerton is founder and president of the Capital Institute

Original post on The Guardian

41 Responses to “Money or Survivial?”

  1. actually has few nuclear weapons then we do. That is why they didnt have to cut down or destroy any under the new treaty

  2. cher star says:

    David Rose is notorious and fabricating data to claim that global warming isn’t happening as well as for fabricating quotes, so this story in the Daily Mail comes as no surprise. Rose presents a graph of temperatures from BEST that to prove that global warming has stopped and then quotes Judith Curry

    “As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline.
    Read the rest of this post… | Read the comments on this post…
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  3. krometoade says:

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  4. delairschh says:

    Interesting video. My name is Laura, and I am offering a global salvation plan to anyone that breaths oxygen. Please visit my site ccrg dot info to learn more. Blessings & Prosperity

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    Mumbai-like deluge redux every 5 years?: Times of India Cloud bursts, such as the one that deluged Mumbai in …

  6. ferr santarson says:

    (AP) — Heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are building up so high, so fast, that some scientists now think the world can no longer limit global warming to the level world leaders have agreed upon as safe.

  7. ok the reason i got scared was that my stupid fan fell behind me while the music was right near the end!!! T.T

  8. asilago fie says:

    as a gardener i can assure you its no good to give your plants too much “plant food” omg my brain typing this. MORONS.

  9. elk azingtonel says:

    We can be and can be to think about it…………the world is filled with />very country they are better than the other one.

  10. churlo nawi says:

    Back from the Surin Islands Nat Park. Beautiful place – shame most of the Coral has been annihilated by tsunami/global warming/fishing?

  11. erbe kazu says:

    Kind of ridiculous that they do not stock paper bags at the self checkouts. Heard of global climate change suburbs?!

  12. mats rich says:

    You want to be careful of sheltering yourself in college. If you want a greater and feel for the real world, which eventually get anyway, want a city campus like NYU. But if you really, really want a strong campus community NYU might end up being too open for you.

  13. lizawadhu arnara says:

    i think the two movies that had to deal with davy jones was the best because davy jones was a great character in this movie and i dont think they could have made him any better because it was just that great

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  20. verster says:

    It is time the world addresses the Global Climate Change from pure spiritual angle rather than following it from physical perspective.

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  27. Former skeptic now says world warmed 2.5 F since 1750, 1.5 F since 1960, “Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

  28. menidani thosfel says:

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  31. 60+ degrees on Thanksgiving? Thinking this global warming is just fine with me! Way better than a snow or ice storm!

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  37. We need to redefine seasons in light of global climate change. No, I’m not a scientist, but I can SEE the bright shiny sun outside

  38. This story should remind all of us that air pollution controls are not just about addressing global warming. They also help us have cleaner air and fewer health problems resulting from smog and haze. earlier this month, Beijing, China having worse than normal air pollution issues. On Jan 14, 2013 the US Embassy’s air pollution sensors in Beijing found the density of the most dangerous small air PM 2.5, at 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The world Health Organization’s guidelines for air pollution state that PM 2.5 above 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air is dangerous to a person’s health.To put the problem into perspective for anyone not living in Cloud City….. I mean Beijing, NASA has released two orbital photos of Beijing showing a before and during photo of the air pollution. The photo from Jan 4 shows of the Beijing still visible from space. The photo from Jan 14 shows nothing but a huge, thick cloud of haze with no buildings visible.

  39. laharduino says:

    man I love the pack but u sound like a dumb meathead here, it’s called global climate change, and it is proven to be happening

  40. The demise of the world’s forests some 250 million years ago likely was accelerated by aggressive tree-killing fungi triggered by global climate change, according to a new study by a University of California, Berkeley, scientist and her Dutch and British colleagues.

  41. gie wubb says:

    The last of the bought-off scumbags that told lies about man-made global climate change and global warming have switched sides –

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