I posted recently about reframing my pursuit of financial independence to capture a more holistic ambition to also lead a sustainable, balanced lifestyle – Financial Independence Live Lightly and Simply (FILLS). With that bit of context, I wanted to write a quick blog post given events this week at the United Nations.
The impact of climate change (or to use a more accurate and less neutral term – global warming) are already apparent with rising sea levels, melting ice caps and glaciers, increased average temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events. Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years.
In 2015 the Paris Climate Change Agreement was established with the aim of keeping a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted a path exists to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the window to action was rapidly closing, highlighting the need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45% by 2030 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
Public and private sector plans
This week the United Nations Climate Action Summit bought together government and private sector leaders to discuss action plan toward this goal. There were lots of announcements and new commitments to accelerate progress:
- 77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so
- Over 100 business leaders and companies also delivered concrete actions to align to the Paris Agreement targets
- Interestingly some of the smaller, poor countries made the biggest change pledges
A lot of hot air? (pardon the pun)
Maybe I’m overly cynical but I’m concerned that this meeting was yet another round of positive sounding noise but little tangible action (or at least not enough). Unfortunately, society and our representative governments have historically shown an unwillingness to change, sacrifice short gains for the benefit of all or look beyond the next election cycle.
Perhaps acknowledging this, the UN Secretary-General noted in his closing remarks “You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go“…..”We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy“.
What can we do as an individual?
Climate change is a systemic risk requiring global coordination and collaboration. I realize that there is very little that can be done on an individual level that can make a material difference.
However, I do want to make a personal contribution to the cause and be a catalyst for change within my small sphere of influence.
In future posts I’ll outline my explicit commitments/ action plan and share my progress.
Thanks for reading
Mr Simple Life