2030 Finance | April 18, 2017

Action trumps politics on climate

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One of the delicious tidbits to emerge from the infighting in the Trump administration is the codename Steve Bannon’s nationalists use to refer to the leader of the globalist wing, National Economic Council chief Gary Cohn: CTC, for “Carbon Tax Cohn.” The factions are expected to go at it today, in a White House meeting that could determine whether the U.S. remains in the global climate agreement reached in Paris in 2015.Could Trump be getting ready to pull a Nixon-to-China on carbon?

The country may have already moved on. As ImpactAlpha has reported, hundreds of business leaders have asked Trump to accelerate, not impede, the low carbon economy. Even ExxonMobil has called on the president to stand by the Paris agreement. BlackRock, State Street and other major asset managers are taking climate risks seriously, and investors are eyeing the $23 trillion opportunity in financing the solutions. Even some Republican leaders are calling for a carbon tax as the most market-friendly approach to the challenge. Could Trump be getting ready to pull a Nixon-to-China on carbon?

“Each part of the problem of climate change has a solution that can make our society healthier and stronger,” write Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope in an excerpt from their new book Climate of Hope. That’s why, they say, as the climate debate in Washington “has barely budged over the past twenty years…Cities, businesses, and citizens are increasingly taking action on their own.”

Mitigating risk and the potential to reap financial rewards has motivated climate action first movers. But the potential gains are more widespread. Transitioning to cleaner, renewable fuels will create six million new jobs, outpacing jobs lost in the fossil fuels sector.

“Improvements in human welfare, including economic, social and environmental aspects, will generate benefits far beyond those captured by GDP,” write authors of a recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Basic economics may indeed trump political inaction on climate. “The tech genie is out of the bottle,” says Carbon Tracker’s CEO, Anthony Hobley. “Trump can no more stop the energy transition than a U.S. president could stop the transition from steam engines to the automobile,” Hobley said.

Carbon Tracker’s much talked about new report lays down the case that solar panels and electric cars, once derided as fringe products for niche markets, are marching to dominance. And significantly, end of oil will come sooner than we think.

This should give those outside of Washington hope. “Instead of putting all hope in the federal government,” write Bloomberg and Pope. “Let’s empower cities, regions, businesses, and citizens to accelerate the progress they are already making on their own.”

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