According to NASA figures (and who’s going to argue with them), we’ve just lived through the hottest September ever: wildfires raged in California, the Amazon Rainforest is still on fire (as it has been since August 2019) and Donald Trump was driven to muse about new “Forest Cities”.
The United Kingdom recorded its wettest September day ever, with a single day’s deluge producing enough rain to fill Loch Ness. And over the last twenty-five years, the Great Barrier Reef has more than halved in size, having been around (undiminished) for more than 500,000 years before that. Every successive decade since 1980 has been hotter than the last, and the previous five years have been the hottest ever.
Only the most swivel-eyed, gimlet lipped climate change denier; only Forest City fantasists of the most extreme kind, could fail to see the signals. Our precious planet is in trouble…
Which is precisely why most countries around the world (except for those currently led by swivel-eyed fantasists) are now committed to ambitious climate mitigation programmes of various stripes and colours: and even in the United States, Joe Biden’s Democrats are committed (if elected) to deliver their Plan for Climate Change which will cost something in the order of $ 2 Trillion. The European Green Deal has been costed at $180 Billion, and China’s National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation is expected to cost a nose bleed inducing $6.6 trillion: all of those figures daunting, but doing nothing isn’t exactly an option (see above).
So where’s all this money supposed to be coming from? Most economies across the globe are still struggling to come to terms with the impact of COVID-19, and we aren’t exactly living through a period of sustainable economic growth.
Added to which most climate mitigation programmes slow down traditional growth vectors, especially so in economies with a high dependence on fossil fuels (like China), those undergoing rapid economic expansion (like India) and those experiencing exponential population growth (India and China).
So how can effective mitigation actually be delivered in an employment and growth-friendly way, protecting key economies and ensuring, perhaps above all else, that the world’s poor aren’t left behind in the process? How can a policy with a built-in tendency to slow down an economy also create the growth it needs to move forward? As Hamlet might have said (in an expanded script) that’s a very interesting question…
And it turns out there’s an equally interesting answer.
The IMF this month produced a blueprint for sustainable economic growth of precisely the kind required, dauntingly titled “A Long and Difficult Ascent” and structured around the central thesis that climate mitigation strategies can also foster growth, even in those vulnerable economies with high levels of fossil fuel dependency and fast-expanding populations. It can do it through a twin-track strategy of creating “an 80% subsidy rate for renewables production” and then combining it with a ten-year public investment programme, which the IMF calls a “Green Investment Push”. And not only is that a much more jaunty tagline than the puritan sounding “long and difficult ascent”, but it is substantially based on policies that have (to a greater lesser extent) already been tried and tested. Analysts predict that in conjunction with a programme of steadily increasing carbon prices (which has also been tried before), the “Push” can increase growth rates annually globe by 0.7% over the next fifteen years and decrease carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
And that 0.7% may not sound a lot, but based on Global GDP last year it amounts to $994,000,000,000 every year for the next fifteen years, or $14.9 Trillion in all: more than seven times the amount needed to pay for Joe Biden’s Climate Mitigation Plan and enough to make the European Green Deal look like a pocket money project. And that, in a nutshell, is how climate change can be addressed, mitigated and paid for in our rapidly changing world.
With the typical understatement of a bureaucrat wearing hush puppies and checking for typos, the IMF’s Chief Economist predicted The Green Investment Push would put the global economy “on a stronger and more sustainable footing over the near term”.
You can say that again…it certainly beats watching more forests blaze into flames live on Fox News, and Loch Ness brimming over with rain. It just takes a little ambition and pluck (as Hamlet might also have said).
Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital through innovative programmes like the Project.
Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent.
We desperately need to square the circle and reconcile economic growth with sustainable, planet friendly programmes; and to my mind the newly unveiled IMF Green Investment Push is capable of doing just that.
It’s certainly a programme we as Red Ribbon can happily buy into, having placed Planet, People and Profit at the very heart of our vision since the company was founded more than a decade ago.