Friday, August 3, 2012

The Question to Ask

Before going further, please read Bill McKibben's article in Rolling Stone from last month:


Now, let's talk 

In summary: to keep climate change to a (debatably 'safe') 2°C rise, we must leave $20 trillion worth of fossil fuel in the ground.

This makes a complete mockery of emissions reductions, energy efficiency and responsible behaviour. We must leave that carbon in the ground, end of story (burning it slower will not help). This means a wholesale shift to renewables and, more importantly, a boycott of fossil fuel energy companies - products, services, profits.

Most companies and institutions have some form of public stance on climate change. For many 'sustainability' is a core value. Some even claim to be carbon neutral. However all organistions rely on some degree on the fossil fuel energy system - either directly by providing services to a lucrative sector or simply through the purchase of their products.

And nearly all climate change strategies, for public and private institutions are based on emissions reductions and offsets, which do not address the basic fact of writing off those $20tn of assets in current circulation.

It's relatively easy to be 'for' something like emissions reduction. The real test then, is not a stance on emissions, but a stance leaving fuel in the ground.

So, the question to ask of CEOs, chair(wo)men, presidents and prime ministers is no longer whether or not they have an opinion or policy on climate change or emissions reduction.

The question to ask is what role they will play in keeping those $20tn worth of carbon in the ground.

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