Climate change: causes, consequences and solutions

Climate change: causes, consequences and solutions

To coincide with COP26 in Glasgow, I have prepared a 1-page summary of the causes, consequences and solutions to climate change for leaders of business and government.

The dynamics of climate change are complex, playing out over years to decades. We can’t slow and reverse these effects overnight or, in some cases, at all. Some self-reinforcing feedback loops, like the release of methane emissions from melting permafrost, could lead to runaway climate change. The effects on society as we know it would be devastating.

The door to a world with a tolerable climate is almost closed. This is why action now, after years of delay, is crucial. We must stop emitting greenhouse gases as quickly as possible. We cannot ‘offset’ our way out of the problem. Ambitious targets for 2030, with credible plans to achieve them, are necessary. Public leaders that deny this are ill-informed or acting in self interest, not the public interest, and are thus unfit to govern.

Many solutions already exist. We must act at pace and scale to deploy them, and to engineer new clean technologies that are affordable to all. And #business needs clear, aligned government policy settings to provide certainty for investment. Uncertainty creates risk, raising the return investors want for taking on that risk. So the cost of the transition is higher. Uncertainty is its own ‘carbon tax’.

The cause-and-effect dynamics are complex, but the actions to shift the flow of finance and effort to tackle it are not. That shift has already started, but can and should be accelerated by governments. A carbon pricing signal is a powerful and necessary accelerant.

So, as you read the news from COP26 in Glasgow and wade through the political rhetoric, notice what matters: credible plans, commitments, and incentives to reduce emissions at pace and scale.