Christina Hipptmaier: “Think, damn it, finally economical!”

Christina Hipptmaier:

Exactly the same will be attempted at COP26, the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October. once again.

In early 1992, more than 150 countries in Rio de Janeiro agreed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would “prevent dangerous disruption of the climate system”. There were a whole series of follow-up meetings in which the international community regularly mired in global danger, making too many promises and then doing too little. But meanwhile emissions have increased, as have atmospheric temperatures, while the devastating consequences of climate change – droughts, floods, wildfires, melting poles and glaciers – are becoming increasingly apparent.

And we are heading in the wrong direction. The second largest increase in emissions to date is forecast for 2021. The states are light years away from the Paris climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. In fact, even with the measures taken or planned so far, the global temperature rise will be 2.7 °C by the end of the century. In all honesty: If you are not afraid of the real dangerous consequences of this global warming, then you have not even considered the issue.

Amazingly, though, there are apparently still many such people. What’s worse, you are often in control of the power. Take Austria, for example, where Chamber of Commerce president Harald Maher patted himself on the shoulder for “negotiating” the abolition of the so-called diesel privilege (a climate-damaging subsidy) as part of the Eco. The social tax reform of the turquoise-green government. Or the Australian government, which is trying to pressure the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to shut down calls for a swift move away from fossil fuels.

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Of course: the Herald Mahers of this world act not out of ignorance, but in the purely economic interests of their respective lobby groups. Now one may resent the fact that proper social concerns are subordinated to economic progress. But in reality, when it comes to climate protection, the economy needs to be a priority. However, different from what the herald Mahers imagine of the world. That is, one that goes beyond short-term profit considerations and is not tied to quarterly reports or legislative periods.

Because the economic damage caused by climate change is in the trillions. The argument that climate protection measures are costly and slow the economy does not stand up to scrutiny. A comprehensive study conducted by Stanford University has concluded that a complete energy transition would cost the world 114,000 billion euros. However, it is believed that the higher investment will save mankind an annual cost of 41,000 billion euros: through reduced air pollution and global warming, as well as their health and economic consequences. Expenses that will pay off very quickly.

Other surveys show that countries that invest early in renewable energy research, development and production benefit economically, in terms of jobs as well. On the other hand, the laggards in decarbonization will be exposed to higher transformation risks such as decline in industrial competition and economic instability over the next ten years. Especially those countries whose economies are heavily dependent on fossil energy. A significant portion of international investors already view fossil fuels and infrastructure as assets that have no potential for long-term profitability.

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So the hopes of the summit in Glasgow are high. It is not in vain that it is called a “turning point”. John Kerry, the former US Secretary of State and head of the US negotiating team, even called Glasgow the world’s “last chance” to avoid an ecological catastrophe. We should take it. And parties and interest groups, especially those that like to flag business potential, might want someone to write in the studbook: “Think, damn it, finally financially!”

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