Technically speaking, the US war on terrorism has ended today.
The research data of the Brown University War Cost Project shows that from the “9.11” incident to the end of 2022, the United States will spend 4.7 trillion US dollars in warfare, of which the debt interest (1.1 trillion yuan) from war-raising assets has not been included. U.S. dollars) and veterans’ medical expenses ($2.2 trillion). As for the price people paid, 929,000 people died in the war and 38 million people were displaced. The US Treasury debt has also skyrocketed. In September 2001, it was only 5.8 trillion U.S. dollars (54.9% of GDP) and reached 28.4 trillion U.S. dollars (135.7% of GDP) by August 2021.
Although the war on terrorism has caused such a scale of economic and life loss, it is only insignificant compared with the upcoming global climate change. The war also exacerbated climate warming. The above-mentioned study by Brown University shows that “The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuel institutions and one of the key responsible parties for climate change. From 2001 to 2017, that is, since the United States launched the war on terrorism and invaded Afghanistan In the years when the data is available, the US military emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.”
Recently, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in the sixth assessment report that there is not much time left for the earth to deal with climate change. This not only involves a certain country, but a crisis that threatens the existence of all mankind. As in dealing with the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the entire government and society should be used to take decisive actions to win the war on climate change.
The EU has already taken action and formulated the Circular Economy Action Plan. The EU sees the essence of the problem: “We have only one earth, but by 2050, the world’s consumption scale will require three earth resources to supply. The global consumption of biomass, fossil fuels, metals and minerals, etc., It is expected to double in the next 40 years; and by 2050, the annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70%.” In
2020, global military expenditure is 2 trillion US dollars, which is four times the energy transition expenditure. The former will increase global carbon emissions and cause more loss of life and natural destruction, while the latter can improve our common destiny.
So, why should companies lead this battle against climate change?
The simple answer is that the business world makes almost all consumer goods in the world, including war tools. According to data from the Carbon Emission Information Disclosure Project, since 1998, 71% of the greenhouse gas emissions that have contributed to global warming have come from only 100 private and state-owned companies. As much as 80% of the impact of products on the environment is determined in the design stage, so the commercial sector can quickly redesign green products. This is a profit opportunity.
Another reason is that the government or political circles have not taken unified action at all. Harvard strategy master Michael Porter wrote in a political science book published in 2020: “Most people believe that our political system is a set of public institutions, with noble principles and fair rules derived from the Constitution. In fact, it has become a private industry dominated by dogma…it cannot provide solutions to the major economic and social challenges facing the United States. “It is impossible to deal with climate change.
Michael Porter recognized that there are no obstacles to science or business models to find solutions to climate change. What is even more surprising is that funding is not a problem. The money to deal with the epidemic and financial crisis comes from the central bank. We are facing an existential crisis, while the rich are getting richer and richer, while the people at the bottom of society are paying for the disasters brought about by climate change-they are losing their homes and jobs.
This is not sustainable for politicians or companies.
In 2012, billionaire businessman Richard Branson declared: “The only option to stop climate change is to enable the business world to make money from it.” After experiencing this year’s epidemic and hurricanes, forest fires and floods, companies around the world They all realize that they have no choice but to include climate change factors in their business models. The “business as usual” thinking that disregards reality has quickly been replaced by ideas that adapt to reality and alleviate problems.
One of the reasons for changing people’s mindset is that the financial industry is aware that climate change will bring huge financial risks. They created the Climate-Related Financial Information Disclosure Working Group to force the business community to take action on climate change by disclosing financial information. The working group pointed out in the first report that climate-related natural disasters caused US$640 billion in losses, and by 2100, as much as US$43 trillion of financial assets will be at risk.
On August 26, 2019, the Amazon rainforest area burned down in Rondônia, Brazil. Picture/Fox
Since the political arena is overwhelming, the only thing that can lead climate change action is the corporate sector. Of course, the person in charge of the company is not the owner of these companies, because many companies are owned by institutional funds. The top 500 asset management companies control more than $104 trillion in assets, of which 43% are controlled by the top 20 companies. Therefore, only a few big business owners need to be persuaded to take action to have a major impact on climate action.
An example shows that it is not only possible, but also feasible, for the world’s wealthy people to take serious action against climate change.
The reason why the Amazon forest is disappearing quickly is to blame for Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his profit-oriented business allies. Amazonian forests and biodiversity-rich soil have accumulated a total of man-made carbon emissions equivalent to four to five years, that is, up to 200 billion tons of carbon. At a price of US$50 per ton of carbon, the Amazon is worth US$10 trillion for everyone in the world. In contrast, Amazon’s market value is now $1.8 trillion. In 2019, the top 1% of the world’s wealthy people had $173.3 trillion, almost twice the global GDP.
Will there be kind-hearted billionaires unite and buy the Amazon forest from Brazil? Brazil’s total foreign debt is currently US$548 billion.
This sounds like a joke, but climate warming is a matter of life and death, and there is no room for jokes. If the business community is not prepared to fight the climate battle, it can only scramble to join the next space flight organized by Branson or Jeff Bezos, just like everything happened in Kabul.