Climate Action: Why We Must ALL Invest In Solutions To Save Our Planet – Forbes

Posted: November 25, 2020 at 9:54 pm

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Guest Post by Kristen Kammerer

The good newswe already have the solutions to address the climate crisis.

Weve reached a tipping point on climate change. In the United States, 72% of adults think global warming is happening, and 80% of 18- to 29-year-olds think its a major threat to life on Earth. Theres no question that the future will be climate-friendly once Millennials and Gen-Zs fully take the reins.

But we cant wait for the future to solve our problems, because we have just over 7 years left before we deplete our carbon budget and crash into the best worst-case scenario of a global temperature that is 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. For even a chance to meet that target, we must start drastically cutting emissions now and taper down to zero by 2050.

The costs to get there are estimated to be $1-2 trillion per year, which is about 1 to 1.5% of global GDP. The cost of doing nothing will be much higher, particularly when factoring in the social costs associated with loss of lives, species, health, and habitats. Yet there is much to gain by taking climate action now, despite fear of high costs. In fact, an analysis from Project Drawdown comparing investment in climate solutions versus business as usual showed that by taking action well see a net savings of $74 trillion over the next 30 years.

We Must Act On Climate Change Now And Fast

Climate action must start now. The good news we already have the solutions to address the climate crisis. Most pressing are to focus on the transition to 100% renewable energy, electrify transportation, and reform our food systems. Simultaneously, we must sequester much of the carbon lingering in our atmosphere by restoring and protecting natural carbon sinks through nature restoration and conservation.

Simply put, innovative climate solutions need significant, long-term investment from governments, corporations, and individuals. Consider some ways leaders are taking action:

Government Must Lead On Climate

Regulations and incentives are critical to catalyzing private-sector investment in climate solutions. Fortunately, some U.S. states and local governments are taking action into their own hands by passing climate-friendly legislation to curb greenhouse gases and set net-zero emissions targets. So far, 23 states have set emissions targets, with New York leading the way in its ambitious plan to reach net-zero economy-wide GHG emissions by 2050. Massive investment in wind and solar energy will be needed to hit these targets, with the mandate that 35% of clean energy and climate investment go to frontline, disadvantaged communities that bear the largest burden of pollution and environmental injustice.

California recently became the first U.S. state to ban all new sales of gas-powered vehicles in an effort to reduce emissions from its largest source, the transportation sector. The move will help accelerate the state towards an emissions-free future by driving further investment into electric vehicle startups like Rivian, Tesla, and Lucid; the latter two also address the need for innovation in energy storage, a global market estimated to grow 122-fold by 2040, requiring $662 billion.

California recently became the first US state to ban all new sales of gas-powered vehicles.

Additional benefits to virtually all governmental climate legislation will be seen through job creation to build both the infrastructure and capacity for an entirely new energy system. The proof is already in the data two of the three fastest growing jobs in America are wind turbine technician and solar photovoltaic installer.

Business Is Finally Putting Their Money Where Their Carbon Is

Business plays a major role in global warming. Its responsible for the majority of the problem, where at least 71% of global GHG emissions were caused by 100 companies. But business can also show real leadership by committing to and investing in solutions. On that note, theres some healthy competition happening among large corporations in the race to see who can transition to 100% renewables first. And were not talking net-zero, which allows for controversial offsetting, but zero-zero, the kind that matters most.

Googles pledge to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030 puts it in the lead, followed closely by Walmart looking to do the same by 2035 plus decarbonize its commercial vehicle fleet by 2040. In the financial sector, Morgan Stanley set a new bar to be net-zero across all its clients and projects by 2050. While not absolute zero, this is significant due to the part the firm plays in financing oil and gas projects, the driving force behind global warming. Make no mistake about it, carbon accounting is the new sustainability. And thanks to innovators like Climate TRACE, whos using AI and satellites to pinpoint both quantity and sources of human-caused emissions, greenwashing will be a thing of the past.

Were also seeing new climate funds emerge from corporations, committing real money to invest in fledging climate innovation. Amazon ($2B), Microsoft ($1B), and Stripe ($1M) are a few notables investing in startups, from EVs to hotly debated carbon capture technologies.

And there are plenty of opportunities to invest in exciting innovations happening across every sector. Food systems, for example, account for at least 20% of global emissions (though its likely much more when deforestation is factored in). Regenerative ocean farming creates new jobs where many have been lost because of overfishing, and growing kelp sequesters carbon and provides a sustainable source of plant-based food while requiring minimal resources. In addition, startups like Impossible and Beyond Meat have become mainstream, highlighting consumer demand for more climate-friendly food options. Finally, working to reduce food waste through technology built to optimize and coordinate logistics from farm to plate would significantly reduce emissions and more efficiently leverage the enormous share of resources allocated toward food systems.

Hows Saving The Planet For An ROI?

The planet needs philanthropic support more than ever, too. In the United States, only 3% of philanthropy goes to the environment, a mind-boggling figure considering that climate crisis is the greatest threat of our lifetime. The scale of solutions is so large that government funding and business investment alone cant address it.

We have just over 7 years left before ... a global temperature that is 1.5 degrees Celsius above ... [+] pre-industrial levels.

This is why individuals must also prioritize climate action. Financially supporting environmental and climate nonprofits, second to voting, is arguably the most impactful way to be part of the solution. A few examples:

These causes dont get the attention of Wall Street or venture capitalists, but without the nonprofits tackling these issues, there is no future to discuss.

New innovation is being developed every day to solve the climate crisis, whether from lean nonprofits or inventors of industrial-scale technology. All we need now is the sheer will of humans across every level of society to reallocate capital toward a clean, green, regenerative, and just economy.

Photo credit: K. Kammerer

Kristen Kammerer is the founder and CEO of Gen E, an environmental micro-philanthropy app that empowers people to take climate action in their daily lives by supporting nonprofits seamlessly.

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Climate Action: Why We Must ALL Invest In Solutions To Save Our Planet - Forbes

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November 25th, 2020 at 9:54 pm

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