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Coal, Cars Money, Trees and Solidarity by Gonzalo Muñoz

10/25/2022 Equipo South Summit

When we began talking about the impact of human activity on the climate,  we used the concept “climate change”. We even used it to constitute the framework convention of the United Nations through which we have been able to advance in agreements such as the Paris Agreement (2015) and the recent Glasgow Pact (2021). In recent years, with the sustained and dramatic advance of climatic anomalies worldwide, the term “climate crisis” has taken over, and so has the once “climate emergency”, especially in some cities and hand in hand with the claim of civil society. In recent days, a new and even more dramatic notion has appeared. As humans don’t change course radically, according to our target scenarios, we enter an “end-game climate, as the most recent scientific studies describe. This view is no surprise as we have been experiencing temperature increases in the northern hemisphere and other climate-related disasters in many regions. The message is frightening and should amplify an alarm that has been sounding for years. We are late in recognizing actions that urgently need to be scaled up, many of which are also generating enormous opportunities for economic and social development in all corners of the planet. We call these opportunities “the right and smart thing to do”

And while the climate agenda should encompass everything that happens on the planet, we must prioritize certain activities to advance solutions to such an urgent crisis. These are actions that, in many cases, increase or reduce the size of the crisis. In other cases, they could make specific communities, ecosystems, activities, and objectives dependent on the climate remain relatively predictable. 

In this sense, we have grouped the macro issues under the acronym CCCTS, which stands for Coal, Car, Cash, Trees, and Solidarity. 

The first refers to quickly getting rid of the current dependence on fossil fuels, exemplified by coal, which must be urgently removed from the energy matrix, followed by oil and gas. It also refers to the relevance of accelerating the energy transition to help electrify as much as possible, making room for new clean ways of storing and transporting electrical energy.

The reference to vehicles involves all transportation systems, the relevance of strengthening clean public transportation systems, the electrification of many of them, and active transportation. Also, it highlights the importance of working towards the transformation of heavy transport systems to ones that do not generate atmospheric emissions.

Money is undoubtedly a key element in the path towards a decarbonized and resilient economy and society, as it is the element that encourages or discourages activities, technologies, business models, and even the culture that favours or disfavours this path. We urgently need the alignment of both public and private financial entities and the transparency of the destination of the funds used in the financial system at all levels. Almost all financial sector issues are related to financed emissions. Regulation has an urgent role in this area, as the potential positive domino effect could be tremendous and very rapid.

Trees refer to nature, to the importance of urgently stopping deforestation, as well as starting with the economics of regenerating ecosystem services. It relates to how we produce food and extract resources for textiles, construction, and mining. It refers to the importance of respecting and recovering water sources and learning to live in peace with the oceans. It is also a current duty to reserve a significant percentage of the planetary surfaces for conservation. One of the aspects in which this part of the agenda is manifesting itself most actively is the recent irruption of vegan food trends for environmental reasons.

And finally, we must carry this agenda with the utmost solidarity because, for at least half of the world’s population, this is a survival agenda, as they are directly and daily subjected to some of the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Those people who need to adapt and become resilient require resources like technology, infrastructure, markets, and regulations that allow them to thrive and not just resist. Currently, neither is happening, and we are seeing suffering and forced migrations. Solidarity, especially with the most vulnerable women and girls, will mark our path to success on this urgent agenda.