The 1.5°C climate commitment is a life insurance policy. The world’s largest companies and richest countries need to take action.
We are used to breaking climate promises. In the 2015 Paris Agreement, developed countries committed $100 billion per year to finance measures to combat the effects of climate change. That goal has reached billions of dollars.
In 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said we were “sleepwalking into a climate catastrophe.” But one of the scary things is that we don’t sleepwalk. We know the science, the math, and the real impacts of the climate crisis, but world leaders seem relatively lax, giving an occasional speech or two in the hope that the problem will resolve itself.
Like world leaders, too many people seem content with the idea that government is in control. Yes, things are happening, and actionable initiatives are more common than they were this time last year. But we still fall short of our goals to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fossil fuels.
For very obvious reasons, the climate narrative is overwhelmingly negative. But this negativity and pessimism encourages inaction and a fatal head-in-the-sand attitude.
Yuval Noah Harari, a historian who is now vehemently opposed to the Israeli government’s horrific attempts to limit the power of the Supreme Court, was the first person who made me think about a problem of global scope. Someone who thinks about the importance of storytelling and narrative. .
Harari believes that “we have a narrative problem with climate change” because we are facing a non-human enemy. The success of large-scale human cooperation is the power of a good story.
Changing the climate narrative is important if we want international cooperation. We need to admit that we are all hypocrites when it comes to climate. It is nearly impossible not to have a negative impact on our planet during our lifetime. There is no such thing as a “perfect” environmentalist. This is an issue that transcends the individual and requires individual action.
But not something so overwhelming that we can’t handle it. Like Harari, I believe we need to focus on investing 2% of global GDP (about $2.25 trillion by 2023) in preventing climate disasters.
We currently invest just under 1.5% of global GDP and need a final push. It is not too difficult to allocate something that can save humanity, and the amount is small. Changing budgets is what politicians do, it’s doable.
Sapienship, a social impact company founded by Harari and Itzak Yahav, said that “with a sustained investment of 2%, we can create a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.” The International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies combined account for more than 7% of global GDP each year. The money could be better spent.
The IPCC 2018 report stated that to stay below 1.5°C, 3% of global GDP needs to be invested in clean energy to prevent further climate catastrophes. Since 2018, one percent has been used for clean energy. Just need to add another two percent.
I am lucky enough to work, directly or indirectly, with many people working on climate emergency initiatives at the United Nations Development Program and the wider United Nations. The United Nations Development Program is working on the ground with more than 120 countries to address the challenges posed by the climate crisis.
The United Nations is providing assistance to help countries adapt to a green economy, produce sustainable energy, address net-zero emissions, and more. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the self-defined climate commitments made by countries in the Paris Agreement – are being supported by the United Nations Development Program and are being planned and implemented in every detail.
This work is possible in part thanks to countries such as the UK, Sweden and Japan. The work of the United Nations Development Program is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we can pat ourselves on the back.
Let’s be positive. The climate crisis is not unstoppable. We can stop it. We just need to put more pressure on world leaders to do more and hold governments accountable, starting by investing 2% of global GDP in preventive measures. Many world leaders are listening, and now they must act.
Joshua Lizarraga Curiel To Speechwriters and communications consultant.