Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Seven Megatrends that Could Beat Global Warming:  'There Is Reason for Hope'

Until recently the battle to avert catastrophic climate change – floods, droughts, famine, mass migrations – seemed to be lost.  But with the tipping point just years away, the tide is finally turning, thanks to innovations ranging from cheap renewables to lab-grown meat and electric airplanes.

A wind farm off the coast of Sussex. (Photograph Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Everybody gets paralyzed by bad news because they feel helpless,” says Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who delivered the landmark Paris climate change agreement.  “It is so in our personal lives, in our national lives, and in our planetary life.”

But it is becoming increasingly clear that it does not need to be all bad news:  a series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming.  From trends already at full steam, including renewable energy, to those just now hitting the big time, such as mass-market electric cars, to those just emerging, such as plant-based alternatives to meat, these trends show that greenhouse gas emissions can be halted.

“If we were seeing linear progress, I would say good, but we’re not going to make it in time,” says Figueres, now the convener of the Mission 2020 initiative, which warns that the world has only three years to get carbon emissions on a downward curve and on the way to beating global warming.  “But the fact is we are seeing progress that is growing exponentially, and that is what gives me the most reason for hope.”

No one is saying the battle to avert catastrophic climate change – floods, droughts, famine, mass migrations – has been won.  But these megatrends show the battle has not yet been lost, and that the tide is turning in the right direction.  “The important thing is to reach a healthy balance where we recognize that we are seriously challenged, because we really have only three years left to reach the tipping point,” says Figueres. “But at the same time, the fact is we are already seeing many, many positive trends.”

Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, agrees.  “The good news is we are way better than we thought we could be.  We are not going to get through this without damage.  But we can avoid the worst.  I am optimistic, but there is a long way to go.”

Also cautiously hopeful is climate economist Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics.  “These trends are the start of something that might be enough – the two key words are ‘start’ and ‘might’.”  He says the global climate negotiations, continuing this week in Germany and aiming to implement the Paris deal, are crucial:  “The acceleration embodied in the Paris agreement is going to be critical.”

Read more at The Seven Megatrends that Could Beat Global Warming:  'There Is Reason for Hope'

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