Riding On The Marrakesh Express

At the Climate Change Summit in Marrakesh in November, the World Meteorological Organization brought a whole new meaning to this beloved song by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

By Judith Stapleton

riding on the marrakesh express

The North Pole has been recording alarming temperatures at least 20°C (36°F) above average. The Arctic experienced a record low extent of sea ice (28.5% less than 1981-2010) in October, just when the water is normally freezing over solid. It is night now in the Arctic, 24 hours a day, and that normally means it should be super-cold up there. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared this year’s October the third in a row of warmest ever.

NOAA Climate Scientist Jessica Blunden has stated emphatically that, “The Arctic is the canary in the coal mine” for global warming.

The hockey stick graph of earth’s warming trend continues off the chart, just as Al Gore predicted, and as Michael Mann demonstrated in his book by that name (The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars).

But are we finding some good news in Marrakesh that just might gently apply the economic breaks to this train?

Eight former investment bank analysts have given up working for profits-at-any-cost, and started the Carbon Tracker Initiative, under the leadership of Anthony Hobley, former corporate lawyer for a globalist firm and asset manager for The Big Guns like Jupiter, Henderson, and City of London. Other members worked for Duetsche Bank, Barclays, HSBC, and other beneficiaries of bailouts. They still use the same skills, doing investment-grade financial analysis on climate risks and what that means for financial markets—particularly, the risks of the low carbon transition. They do the numbers.

When interviewed, Hobley pointed out that the big difference between the 2009 Copenhagen COP2 and last year’s meeting in Paris was the Paris Agreement, a treaty with international commitments, and he is confident that this treaty has the economic backbone to survive a Trump tenancy in the White House.

Just as no president could have stopped the technological developments that led the transition from the steam locomotive to the automobile, the land-line phone system to the cell phone, or the manual typewriter to the personal digital computer, a Trump administration is not going to be able to stop the technological developments in the green growth industries, and this group of global financial analysts have the numbers to persuade the markets.

Their analyses show that we are already in a technology-driven low-carbon transition, and this summit in Marrakesh, and other constituent international meetings, hash out the policy frame-work that speeds the transition sufficient to deliver a stable climate that keeps us within the 2 degree carbon budget. At the Paris Accord, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, kicked off the whole process with the Financial Stability Board Climate Task Force. Michael Bloomberg leads that task force in influencing the financial markets to develop a sort of criteria under which business and financial markets would disclose climate risks in their practices and investments. Transparency of that risk to the climate shapes their motivations to make the “right decisions.”

In other words, as long as the markets can achieve expected outcomes by making money from a return on investments, they can invest in green energy projects, keep people employed in those industries, grow those industries, and spread the benefits by economy of scale: the more photo voltaic panels you make, the cheaper they are.

“The more investment in the clean-up of oil and gas industrial mess, the more stable the workforce, and the more co-investment there will be in government-funded and privately funded green industries.”

Hobley knows what he’s talking about. He, and a number of other investors from the private sector, chair high-level ministerial committees dedicated to scaling-up climate finance, where governments may use a hundred billion dollars to leverage at least 10 times that amount from private sector finance. This COP has been fuelled by people prepared to provide a kind of climate finance roadmap laying out exactly how they can mobilize that hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money.

Roadmaps depict human ways to navigate a fixed geography. We want to go towards desirable destinations while avoiding hazard. There is no question, we have to invest in climate change. And there may be a way to keep the wheels greased even while the brakes are applied to this momentous train.

But the environment is not fixed, and climate change knows no borders. Earthquakes and melting ice, super storms and unpredictable wobbles in wind patterns around the globe make steering this train almost physically impossible. Perhaps we can just slow it down.

Publishers Notes: Judith Stapleton is a writer in the fields of science and medicine.