Across the world, the collective hopes for our future just brightened a few lumens. A future of less time wasted and more time invested. It feels a bit like the school yard bully has moved interstate and the head prefect has taken control of the playground.
ACTIONS AND CONSEQUENCES HAVE BEEN THE LOUD BANGING MESSAGE OF 2020. AND DEALING WITH CONSEQUENCES IS 2021.
This time last year in Australia, Scotty returned home from Hawaii hols to an inferno of public outcry and the cinders of something that was once 12.6 million hectares of Australia. Lives, land and love were lost and our Prime Minister was literally run out of town for his inaction. At the time, we had not even the vaguest idea of what lay beyond our fury with his inaction.
2020 GAVE US A ROAD MAP OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DO NOTHING TO FIX PROBLEMS, BEYOND HOPING THEY WILL GO AWAY. MOST OF ALL, WE GOT OUR YOU KNOW WHAT HANDED TO US IN A LESSON ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF LETTING POWERFUL ACTORS MANIPULATE COMMON GOOD FOR BAD PERSONAL AGENDAS.
There was so much going down across the globe in 2020 that Harry and Megs absconding from the royal family and the bailing Kardashians would have been huge news if the catastrophIC scale of actual real life reality hadn't pushed them into the oblivion of unreality. Which, fairly, is one of the few big ticks of 2020. Along with David Attenborough's, "A Life on Our Planet" and instagram debut.
In 2019, our annual prediction was that the experience of both the weather and the rising concerns of our children would start to focus more of our attention on the impacts and personal consequences of climate change. Well we got that right and experience we did, as we got a serious dose of the repercussions of weather in late 2019 and global school strikes.
But 2020 took consequences to a whole new level as we watched a seemingly innocuous bat flap its wings in Wuhan and set off a tsunami called COVID across the world. First slowly, then gathering pace. Some saw the bat, guessed the tsunami and built sea walls. Others laughed at the tsunami warnings and got washed away. So biblical really.
We shared COVID one actor at a time, and one by one millions co-created the tsunami. Millions died from it and now countries are paralysed by it - trapped physically, politically and socially in a wave of their own making.
The COVID tsunami literally paralysed the entire world and took with it many of our staple norms. There is nothing quite as eye opening as having everything you hold onto as normal taken from you.
For many of us, just the realisation of how quickly everything unravels, was enough to get a window into what lies ahead with climate change. The physical calamity, the loss of control and how both leaders and society dealt with it. Suddenly we had reasons to think differently about how we needed to live. Klaus Grunert from Aarhus University says:
"HABITS FUNCTION IN STABLE ENVIRONMENTS. WHEN THE ENVIRONMENT BECOMES DISRUPTED, THEY CHANGE MORE EASILY. THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN A DISRUPTIVE EVENT. SO IT'S A GOOD SITUATION FOR BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE."
As the will to change, to act, to fix; is strengthening and accelerating, business groups, corporations, philanthropists and others who can bring broad based change are already acting more decisively; to collaborate, to build clean businesses to influence the climate mitigation agenda and to make change. The sizable commercial opportunities in climate management, mitigation and capitalisation are rising to the top of the pond and the scale of opportunity is attracting attention, investment and action.
Grass roots change is accelerating faster. A recent University of Oxford survey found two-thirds of more than 13,000 people in 28 European nations now support a ban on short-haul flights if the destination could be reached in 12 hours by train. The same Oxford survey suggested that more than half of respondents planned to use their cars less often and would support pedestrianising city centres and nearly two-thirds would be prepared to reduce meat consumption.
The importance of these kinds of attitude changes is that they speak to the collective community drivers. We know, from years of experience, that when people make one green decision, they will almost always make another. And another.
It's the green crocodile theory.
Prince Charles is hardly a 'mainstream' business man, but his renewed respect, leadership and influence in the climate investment space heralds a broader acceptance of both the risks of bad climate investments and the opportunities for good investment.
At the One Planet Summit in Paris at the beginning of 2021, Prince Charles launched the Terra Carta, a charter backing efforts to protect half of the planet by 2050. On board with him already are AstraZeneca, Bank of America, BP, BlackRock, EY, Fidelity International, Heathrow Airport, HSBC and Unilever.
Charlie has of course been a long term conservationist and environmentalist, but what has now changed is will - not for Charlie, but for an increasing number of society elite and corporations, who understand that at a most basic level, climate change is a bad investment. The prince, once viewed as eccentric greenie, is now a highly connected and experienced climate advocate, leading a bunch of the global elite in directing better business investment.
Under the banner of a newly formed Natural Capital Investment Alliance, Prince Charlie has also created a new alliance of investors and energy sector giants that will see $US10 billion (A$12.9 billion) invested in natural capital opportunities.
Prince Charlie mobilised some pretty powerful actors and no doubt that didn't happen over night. One of the key reasons alliances like these are going to become increasingly common is the undeniable argument that anything that contributes substantively to climate change is a long term investment risk. And on the flip side, investment in natural capital and more climate friendly projects is way safer.
The new Natural Capital Investment Alliance was created with HSBC Pollination Climate Asset Management, which itself was new to market last year and joins many others, including Blackrock and Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), who seek to engage the $US120 trillion (A$154 trillion) investment management industry and mobilise this private capital to support natural capital opportunities and achieving Paris Agreement targets.
After dashing our climate hopes as our green Prime Minister a few years back, Australia's most promising climate evangelist is again making himself heard. He's in our 2021 predictions out of sheer bloody minded will. Australia needs an articulate climate voice and Malcolm, we think it's you. Who else can put the great climate PR spin into better perspective than Malcolm on Q&A in 2020?
"NEWSCORP AND ITS FRIENDS IN POLITICS, LIKE TRUMP AND OTHERS, HAVE TURNED THIS ISSUE OF PHYSICS INTO AN ISSUE OF VALUES OR IDENTITY. SAYING YOU BELIEVE OR DISBELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING IS LIKE SAYING YOU BELIEVE OR DISBELIEVE IN GRAVITY."
As Biden moves into the White House, we say bye bye to a man who moved the fault lines of truth, polarised society and showed us all how fragile our community is.
It also turns out that just because humans make targets like 2030 or 2050 to fix stuff, the earth beneath our feet doesn't know what year it is and is moving on regardless.
2021 is the year we will collectively shift toward sane, methodical management of our way out of this mess. We can only hope it's soon enough.
Images: Main image | Nightmare in Paradise by Shawna X 500 Piece Puzzle / Journey of Something - originally spotted on Design Milk