A new beginning…

www.sorenandersson.com

COP21 in Paris is over, 196 countries reached on December 12th an historic international agreement outlining the ambition and the way forward towards a new Sustainable future…
The “Paris Agreement”.

On September 25th the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/Res/70/1…
The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

What a great way to launch an incredible new journey.

Interpretations and comments of what the agreements “really say” are coming from various stakeholders and organizations – many of them stating that its “too little” or “lacking enough ambition”, “too many goals” etc – but regardless, governments around the world have never before shown such collective commitment to support the transition to a Sustainable Society.

www.sorenandersson.comLet us instead of squabbling about details make sure we get started and keep a high momentum, so that no more precious time is lost.

And don’t forget;
There is nothing in the agreements stating that we are not allowed to do more or better…!

Let’s take a look at some of the “challenges” ahead…

“We need clear common goals and long-term rules…”

For many years this has been a very common excuse used by executives, corporations, industry associations, politicians and others to “do nothing”, to avoid or postpone change and continue Business-as-usual…

Now we have 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals including 169 targets, valid for All countries and All stakeholders, with a time frame of 15 years and also a clear ambition of limiting Global Warming to max +1.5 – +2.0 °C.

www.sorenandersson.com

Now it is time to stop making excuses and instead kick-start change.
(...and let’s hope it isn’t to late.)

One more fantastic thing about all the new goals – the almost 200 countries that have adopted them consists of countries with all varieties of political agendas and governmental setups, people of all religious communities, of all cultures and ethnicities… For once we have common goals – to save this planet and create a better world for everyone.

New Beginning – The End of the era of Fossil Fuels

Phasing out fossil fuels is imperative if we are to reach the agreed goals – and it is definitely the most urgent task of all if we are serious to stay below the +2 °C limit.

In a world so heavily dependent on fossil fuels, this will be a tough challenge, and with a wealthy Fossil fuel industry that obviously do not care at all if our planet is destroyed or not – as long as they can make profits – the challenge is going to take a lot of efforts…

Oil FieldIt is today common knowledge that we already have prospected, and found, fossil fuels that will cause 5 times the emissions our planet and humanity can handle – if extracted and burned the way we have done so far. But still the fossil fuel industry invests huge amounts, searching for more… and investors are still pouring lot’s of money down this “dead end street”…

The fossil fuel corporations also have lied about the consequences of their rogue business for decades and have actively funded climate denialists and lobbyists to promote their agenda – read Bill McKibbens op-ed in the Guardian about Exxon’s Climate Lie here… and it was not only Exxon that knew, as Neela Banerjee revealed in her article in Inside Climate News.

While this business is one of the most profitable on the planet it is also the sector that receives the highest subsidies of all – more then $10 million a minute according to IMF (Article) ...that’s more than the total health spending of all the world’s governments…

…But things are changing…

We are currently hitting something similar to “Peak Oil”, but the symptoms are the opposite of the ones that most people expected. There is a glut of supply, and prices are far below the cost of production. Read more in this excellent article by casualty actuary Gail Tverberg; “Why ‘supply and demand’ doesn’t work for oil”

www.sorenandersson.comThe Divestment movement is gaining momentum and during the Paris climate talks, it was announced that more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have made divestment commitments so far.

…if the Fossil Fuel Industry and egotistic Investors continue to argue that they need not to comply with the decisions of the majority of countries – we’ll have to push hard to move the money away from the apparently totally callous and selfish individuals running and owning these corporations…

…”Keep it in the Ground”…

New beginning – Excessive Consumption

We don’t need more consumption – we need less and more evenly distributed…

Based on WWF:s “Living Planet Report 2014“, where all available renewable resources are combined at a ratio called Global hectares (GHA) and then distributed evenly on the earth’s population, each of us have an annual “footprint budget” of 1.7 GHA that would keep us within our planetary boundaries.

We are currently using 2.6 GHA per capita – running the Planet at 153% of its capacity!!

And that’s the average – most of the high-income countries are using far more resources, living and consuming as if there are several available planets!

www.sorenandersson.com

With 85% of the world population living in a country running a biocapacity deficit, and running the planet at 153% of its capacity, we are hardly in a situation where we can increase consumption.
If you then add the inevitable fact that the population is going to increase by 2-3 billion people over the next few decades – We are in trouble!

What we URGENTLY must aim for is to get everybody closer to a Sustainable Average – bringing down the excessive consumption among developed countries while at the same time allowing for the developing world to reach a fair standard of living.
Read more in this previous article; “Average – a Sustainable Role model”

This is absolutely necessary to take into account in connection with any discussion of expanded trade, continued growth etc – unbridled growth can no longer be allowed, we have become a large society on a small planet and we are already way beyond the planetary boundaries.

…and this “Key-indicator” only included consumption of Renewable resources, the resources that our planet, if well managed, can continuously re-produce  – add non-renewable resources and the situation becomes even more troublesome…

New beginning – Globalization

…do we really need more Globalization, generally speaking?

Globalization has brought many good things for our society – Only good things… nja, well?

www.sorenandersson.comIf you look at the way many big corporations continuously source their production in countries where wages are lower, where taxes are lower, where legal requirements are lower etc – you could argue that Globalization only is a new name for Colonialism, and that our economic system is setup so that someone has to be exploited for others to thrive…

…but then someone from “pro-globalization” always brings up the benefits of “trickle-down economy” and the development that actually takes place in countries.
Yes – development is happening, but the setup as such has similarities with “Moment 22” – once wages etc increase the big corporations move on, always searching for “cheaper, less regulations…” And as if that’s not enough they often make sure that corporate taxes are paid 
elsewhere, if at all, effectively reducing the “exploited” countries opportunities to build a sound and strong state-economy and to develop their infrastructure etc…
From a corporate perspective; Is development, higher wages etc really a wanted solution? 

A “fictive” example:
Imagine an equal society where wages, taxes, laws etc are more or less the same around the world – Why should then a T-shirt for the European or US market be manufactured in Bangladesh or China?

www.sorenandersson.comShipping facts: There are today approx. 100,000 container ships in the world, that’s 4X more than in the 1970s. The 15 largest container ships together emits more CO2 than ALL the cars in the world. Thats approx 4% of all global CO2-emissions and almost equal to Germanys total CO2-emissions…

New beginning – Trade Agreements

Free-trade agreements are often said to be very beneficial for the continued development of our society on this planet.

www.sorenandersson.com

Link to: “Trade Trumps Climate”

What strikes me is that when you look at history, most of the current active agreements have been negotiated in parallel with all the efforts that have been made by countries and organizations to prevent and reduce our society’s negative impact on our climate and environment all the way since the Earth Summit in Rio 1992.

And still, the impact on our Climate, Resources etc. has always been totally excluded from the trade agreements.
It is almost as if consumption and trade have been granted a total “Carte-Blanche“…

And now its time again, the secretive negotiations of TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) includes no mention of climate change at all.
The TTIP includes a “charming” collection of sympathetic phrases, but nothing that would prevent the agreement from encroaching on environmental policies. There are even clauses giving corporations considerable “legal rights” to sue countries if they eg. introduce new regulations to save our climate that in any way jeopardizes corporate opportunities to make profits…

Apparently the negotiators have set their priorities straight (?). Trade rules must prevail. Even at the cost of the planet, and since trade agreements often are legally binding, while the Paris Agreement and Global Goals are merely “agreements” between countries – the planet is at considerable risk!

A reflection; Isn’t at least some of the negotiators part of the governments in their respective countries – The same governments that have signed The Global Goals and the Paris Agreement – don’t they work together? The timeframe we have to change the trajectory to avoid extremely serious consequences to our climate is very short – creating legally binding trade agreements which can counteract the vital changes necessary can not possibly be in humanity’s or voters interest…

New Beginning – People versus Corporations

Ever since neo-liberal economic theories from the “Chicago-school” and Milton Friedman’s article in New York Times in the 1970s became some kind of  “standard” taught at Business schools around the world, and eagerly promoted by people like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, corporations have become more and more discharged from Society.

“…Only ‘people’ have responsibilities…
’Business’ as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense…”

Milton Friedman, New York Times 1970

This corporate discharge from “societal responsibility” have led to development of all kinds of setups where corporations operate only as legal “entities” creating their own flawed game rules. It also divorced people’s attachment and motivation from the “Corporate Machine” and place them in a separate category of “commodities” – Human Resources.

Read more in this previous article; “A free market – Free at ‘ANY’ price…?”

The current situation with Corporations only accountable to their shareholders is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of all when we now urgently need to re-shape our society – too many Corporations simply “doesn’t care”…

…or say they “care” but what they really do is merely maintenance of “Business-as-usual”…
Read more in this previous article
“A Sustainability Cheat-Sheet…”

...But things are (maybe) changing…

The current trends with Sustainability reporting and various CSR-initiatives show some “promising” ways forward, although it still mainly seems to be only minimal changes to Business-as-usual.
Disclosure is not equal to change, but it is a good start – and once you realize the problem there is no way back.

We are also seeing more and more disruptive business ideas (like Über, airbnb, Tesla, Spotify) gaining ground and changing the “landscape” altogether

Someone calculated that the nearly 200 countries that have adopted the Global Goals and the Paris Agreement represents more than 85% of the people living on this planet – this is what democracy is about. The issue is now whether corporations will continue their predatory and infinite hunt for short-term profits – with many of their employees, customers, shareholders and executives among the 85%…

This is an extremely serious moment in our society’s timeline on this planet – We need serious people to deal with it, not egoistic and selfish “avatars” claiming that they have “No responsibility” other than creating economic profit…

Watch this quick tour of the Goals…

PS:

Saving our planet is likely to hurt our current economic system and interfere with our current way of life, but not doing so will definitely DESTROY it!

So Let’s get started… “A New beginning!”