Roots of climate change threat lie in a deeper crisis of values

Roots of climate change threat lie in a deeper crisis of values

‘Our collective failure has led us to a series of crises and arguably one of the biggest crises – climate change.’

Mark Carney, Former Governor of the Bank of England

Just before Christmas Mark Carney concluded his 2020 series of BBC Radio 4’s Reith Lecture series with a lecture entitled ‘From climate change to real prosperity.” Interestingly Mark explains how we have created a new era where the earth’s climate is driven by the ‘frenzied activity of humans.’ Since the 1980s weather extremes have tripled causing a five-fold increase in the value of property destruction – and that is just the amount that was insured. Coastal flooding is projected to rise by 50% by the end of the century, threatening assets worth 20-25% of global GDP. These are really sobering figures and could potentially result in the equivalent of a decade of no economic growth. 

The change in attitude towards climate change has undoubtedly been driven by what we are now seeing as the financial and social implications on our world. It is sad that so much of what climate change destroys – species, habitat for example was not valued in the past but it’s not too late to make changes. The COVID crisis has exposed the folly of undervaluing resilience and risk and today society is now placing greater value on sustainability. These are all important messages that Mark highlights and ties in with our own commitment at D-Risk to help organisations become more accountable and assess the risks of this ongoing climate change threat and how we can be better prepared for the future.

The sooner we act the less costly it will be…

Indeed, one of the most powerful soundbites from this lecture was “The sooner we act, the less costly it will be. We have to value the future.” This responsibility lies with everyone and Mark mentions the challenges , two of which are not surprisingly political and financial and discusses the importance of carbon net zero.  The responsibility of businesses and financial institutions is something we have been very vocal about and Mark touches upon one of the objectives of COP26, which is set to take place in Glasgow this year, is to put in place the foundations so every financial decision takes climate change into account. The financial system plays a key role in the path to net zero and are showing their commitment with sustainable investment, green technology, and green finance.

Therefore, to coin one of Mark’s phrases ‘don’t be a jerk.’ As we start 2021 let’s grab this issue of climate change by the horns and take decisive action. Urgency and speed are words that have been thrown around by many but really do ring true. 2021 could be a crunch year for tackling climate change with world leaders gathering at COP26 in Glasgow in November for the successor to the landmark Paris meeting of 2015. How we all react will shape the future and as Mark reiterated any ‘catastrophic impact will fall on future generations.”

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