How can wind investors help avert climate catastrophe?

A catastrophic breakdown of human systems. A rapid collapse of the economic, social and political world as we know it. A worldwide financial breakdown far worse than the one in the late noughties.

Ilaria Valtimora
February 25, 2019
How can wind investors help avert climate catastrophe?

A catastrophic breakdown of human systems.

A rapid collapse of the economic, social and political world as we know it.

A worldwide financial breakdown far worse than the one in the late noughties.

These are some potential impacts of climate change on our socio-political systems and we are not prepared to face them. But is this realistic and can investors help?

In its report ‘This is a Crisis’, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has examined how the deterioration of natural infrastructure, including extreme weather and soil infertility, is already having a knock-on effect on health, inequality and migration, increasing the risk of political tension and conflicts.

The paper is a meta-study of academic papers and government documents, and it highlights that human impacts on the environment go beyond climate change and have the potential to erode our socio-economic stability.

The study shows that an economic breakdown similar to the one caused in the 2008 and 2009 by the US subprime mortgage crisis could occur again if, for example, the US keeps suffering heavy financial losses caused by hurricanes and forest fires. This is because an escalation of these events could spark a rush of insurance claims and threaten the viability of financial institutions.

In our globally-linked system, this could have a domino effect.

These environmental breakdowns, and their financial impacts, could trigger disastrous breakdowns of our economic, political and social systems. And the scale of this could multiply as more countries suffer social and economic climate change damage. So far too little attention has been given to the issue.

On top of that, the complexity, scale and uncertainty at which environmental breakdowns are occurring mean that it is unclear whether policymakers are prepared to deal with them.

Fixing these issues requires huge focus from everyone: politicians, businesses, and the people that both of those groups serve.

The report says the first and most important steps need to be taken by governments on their policies. Climate change is already on the agenda of many governments and important decisions have been put in place to promote renewables.

For example, last year the European Union agreed a binding renewables target of 32% of energy from 2030. Climate change is also set to be crucial in the US 2020 presidential election as the Democratic Party unveiled this month a ten-year ‘green new deal’, which includes a 100% renewables target. But the targets are too low and the pace to slow to address the scale of breakdown that we’re facing.

Companies in the wind sector cannot rely on governments doing enough. In order to achieve those targets, there needs to be technological evolution and rapid growth of renewables. We may talk of wind as going from ‘strength to strength’, but the IPPR says that the overall progress on renewables is still “inadequate” and “too slow”. In Europe, figures from WindEurope last week showed this slow growth.

The IPPR report points to the fact that the wind sector, and renewables as a whole, are only making progress in the energy framework, but not driving needed social and economic changes. For wind, this could mean doing more work to encourage people – businesses and domestic consumers – to move their own needs to renewables.

There’s a parallel with electric vehicles. The technology has been around for years and is now taking off, but companies in the sector could do far more good to help the climate crisis if they were also promoting a wider programme of reductions in private vehicle use, increasing cycling, and improving public transport.

This highlights the greatest challenge in the IPPR study: public awareness of climate crisis, and how firms can improve it. In an interview with The Guardian, lead author of the report Laurie Laybourn-Langton said there was too little public debate on this: “People are not frank enough about this,” he said. “It’s appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough.”

This isn’t only about climate change. Governments and businesses, including media, need to work together to raise awareness of the scale of the problem before its too late, and find ways to solve it. Investors in the wind sector can play a vital role.

A catastrophic breakdown of human systems.

A rapid collapse of the economic, social and political world as we know it.

A worldwide financial breakdown far worse than the one in the late noughties.

These are some potential impacts of climate change on our socio-political systems and we are not prepared to face them. But is this realistic and can investors help?

In its report ‘This is a Crisis’, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has examined how the deterioration of natural infrastructure, including extreme weather and soil infertility, is already having a knock-on effect on health, inequality and migration, increasing the risk of political tension and conflicts.

The paper is a meta-study of academic papers and government documents, and it highlights that human impacts on the environment go beyond climate change and have the potential to erode our socio-economic stability.

The study shows that an economic breakdown similar to the one caused in the 2008 and 2009 by the US subprime mortgage crisis could occur again if, for example, the US keeps suffering heavy financial losses caused by hurricanes and forest fires. This is because an escalation of these events could spark a rush of insurance claims and threaten the viability of financial institutions.

In our globally-linked system, this could have a domino effect.

These environmental breakdowns, and their financial impacts, could trigger disastrous breakdowns of our economic, political and social systems. And the scale of this could multiply as more countries suffer social and economic climate change damage. So far too little attention has been given to the issue.

On top of that, the complexity, scale and uncertainty at which environmental breakdowns are occurring mean that it is unclear whether policymakers are prepared to deal with them.

Fixing these issues requires huge focus from everyone: politicians, businesses, and the people that both of those groups serve.

The report says the first and most important steps need to be taken by governments on their policies. Climate change is already on the agenda of many governments and important decisions have been put in place to promote renewables.

For example, last year the European Union agreed a binding renewables target of 32% of energy from 2030. Climate change is also set to be crucial in the US 2020 presidential election as the Democratic Party unveiled this month a ten-year ‘green new deal’, which includes a 100% renewables target. But the targets are too low and the pace to slow to address the scale of breakdown that we’re facing.

Companies in the wind sector cannot rely on governments doing enough. In order to achieve those targets, there needs to be technological evolution and rapid growth of renewables. We may talk of wind as going from ‘strength to strength’, but the IPPR says that the overall progress on renewables is still “inadequate” and “too slow”. In Europe, figures from WindEurope last week showed this slow growth.

The IPPR report points to the fact that the wind sector, and renewables as a whole, are only making progress in the energy framework, but not driving needed social and economic changes. For wind, this could mean doing more work to encourage people – businesses and domestic consumers – to move their own needs to renewables.

There’s a parallel with electric vehicles. The technology has been around for years and is now taking off, but companies in the sector could do far more good to help the climate crisis if they were also promoting a wider programme of reductions in private vehicle use, increasing cycling, and improving public transport.

This highlights the greatest challenge in the IPPR study: public awareness of climate crisis, and how firms can improve it. In an interview with The Guardian, lead author of the report Laurie Laybourn-Langton said there was too little public debate on this: “People are not frank enough about this,” he said. “It’s appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough.”

This isn’t only about climate change. Governments and businesses, including media, need to work together to raise awareness of the scale of the problem before its too late, and find ways to solve it. Investors in the wind sector can play a vital role.

A catastrophic breakdown of human systems.

A rapid collapse of the economic, social and political world as we know it.

A worldwide financial breakdown far worse than the one in the late noughties.

These are some potential impacts of climate change on our socio-political systems and we are not prepared to face them. But is this realistic and can investors help?

In its report ‘This is a Crisis’, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has examined how the deterioration of natural infrastructure, including extreme weather and soil infertility, is already having a knock-on effect on health, inequality and migration, increasing the risk of political tension and conflicts.

The paper is a meta-study of academic papers and government documents, and it highlights that human impacts on the environment go beyond climate change and have the potential to erode our socio-economic stability.

The study shows that an economic breakdown similar to the one caused in the 2008 and 2009 by the US subprime mortgage crisis could occur again if, for example, the US keeps suffering heavy financial losses caused by hurricanes and forest fires. This is because an escalation of these events could spark a rush of insurance claims and threaten the viability of financial institutions.

In our globally-linked system, this could have a domino effect.

These environmental breakdowns, and their financial impacts, could trigger disastrous breakdowns of our economic, political and social systems. And the scale of this could multiply as more countries suffer social and economic climate change damage. So far too little attention has been given to the issue.

On top of that, the complexity, scale and uncertainty at which environmental breakdowns are occurring mean that it is unclear whether policymakers are prepared to deal with them.

Fixing these issues requires huge focus from everyone: politicians, businesses, and the people that both of those groups serve.

The report says the first and most important steps need to be taken by governments on their policies. Climate change is already on the agenda of many governments and important decisions have been put in place to promote renewables.

For example, last year the European Union agreed a binding renewables target of 32% of energy from 2030. Climate change is also set to be crucial in the US 2020 presidential election as the Democratic Party unveiled this month a ten-year ‘green new deal’, which includes a 100% renewables target. But the targets are too low and the pace to slow to address the scale of breakdown that we’re facing.

Companies in the wind sector cannot rely on governments doing enough. In order to achieve those targets, there needs to be technological evolution and rapid growth of renewables. We may talk of wind as going from ‘strength to strength’, but the IPPR says that the overall progress on renewables is still “inadequate” and “too slow”. In Europe, figures from WindEurope last week showed this slow growth.

The IPPR report points to the fact that the wind sector, and renewables as a whole, are only making progress in the energy framework, but not driving needed social and economic changes. For wind, this could mean doing more work to encourage people – businesses and domestic consumers – to move their own needs to renewables.

There’s a parallel with electric vehicles. The technology has been around for years and is now taking off, but companies in the sector could do far more good to help the climate crisis if they were also promoting a wider programme of reductions in private vehicle use, increasing cycling, and improving public transport.

This highlights the greatest challenge in the IPPR study: public awareness of climate crisis, and how firms can improve it. In an interview with The Guardian, lead author of the report Laurie Laybourn-Langton said there was too little public debate on this: “People are not frank enough about this,” he said. “It’s appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough.”

This isn’t only about climate change. Governments and businesses, including media, need to work together to raise awareness of the scale of the problem before its too late, and find ways to solve it. Investors in the wind sector can play a vital role.

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