Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?

There are signs the climate movement could be on the verge of a remarkable and surprising victory.  If we read the current context correctly, and if the movement can adjust its strategy to capture the opportunity presented, it could usher in the fastest and most dramatic economic transformation in history. This would include the removal of the oil, coal and gas industries from the economy in just a few decades and their replacement with new industries and, for the most part, entirely new companies. It would be the greatest transfer of wealth and power between industries and countries the world has ever seen.

To understand this incredible potential we first have to step back and understand the unique structure of this social change movement, which may rank among the most influential in history.  It is simplistic to characterise it as an alliance of grass roots organisations and activists pitched against a rich and well connected adversary. While that is part of the story, it is more accurately understood as an idea whose tentacles reach into every tier of government, the world’s largest companies and financial institutions, and throughout the academic and science communities.

Because of this, it is winning the battle from within: Its core arguments and ideas are clearly right; being endorsed by the world’s top science bodies and any significant organisation that has examined them.

Far from being at society’s margins it has the support, to various degrees, of virtually all governments, and many of the world’s most powerful political leaders, including the heads of state of the USA, China and other leading economies. It counts the CEO’s of many global companies and many of the world’s wealthiest people as active supporters – who between them direct hundreds of billions of dollars of capital every year towards practical climate action. And of course, this comes on top of one of the most global, best funded, broadly based and bottom up community campaigns we have ever seen.

That is the reality of the climate movement – it is massive, global, powerful, and on the right side of history.

So why, many ask, has it so far not succeeded in its objective of reducing CO2 emissions? Much has been written on this topic but most of it is wrong. It is simply an incredibly big job to turn on its head the global economy’s underpinning energy system. And so it has taken a while. Considering how long other great social movements took to have an impact – such as equality for women or the end of slavery and civil rights movements – then what’s surprising is not that the climate movement hasn’t yet succeeded. What’s surprising is how far its come and how deeply it has become embedded in such a short time.

And now is the moment when it’s greatest success might be about to be realised – and just in time.

We are at the most important moment in this movement’s history – in the midst of two simultaneous tipping points that create the opportunity, if we respond correctly, to win – eliminating net CO2 emissions from the economy and securing a stable climate, though still a changed one.

I have come to this conclusion after reflecting on a year when an avalanche of new knowledge and indicators made both tipping points clear. The first and perhaps the best understood is the rapid acceleration in climate impacts, reinforcing the view many hold that the scientific consensus on climate has badly underestimated the timing and scale of climate impacts. The melting of the Arctic Sea Ice, decades before expected, was the poster child of this but extreme weather and temperature records across the world, notably in the USA, suggested this Arctic melting is a symptom of accelerating system change.

It also became clear that this was literally just the “warm up” act – that we are currently heading for a global temperature increase of 4°C or more, double the agreed target.

In response came a series of increasingly dire warnings from conservative bodies like the International Energy Agency, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps most colourfully, the IMF chief and former conservative French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, said that without strong action “future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled”. The World Bank was similarly blunt about the economic consequences of our current path: “there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.”

These and other reports laid out the evidence that the only option was transformational economic change because the alternative was simply unmanageable. Action was no longer a preferred outcome but an essential one. As the World Bank said “the projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur”.  Even the IEA, historically a kind of advocate in chief for the fossil fuel industry, came on board, pointing out that a stable climate and economy requires the majority of the global reserves of fossil fuels to never be burnt.

It is an extraordinary turn around when key mainstream economic institutions lay out the case for dismantling what is arguably the world’s most powerful business sector.

Of particular note in all this, observing both the message and the messengers, is that what was predominantly an ecological question is now primarily an economic one. This is a profoundly important shift, as economic risk is something society’s elites take very seriously.  It also unleashes another major potential tipping point which we have seen signs of, but is not yet in full flight. When non-fossil fuel companies understand the broad economic risk posed by the lack of climate action, they will become genuine and strong advocates demanding climate action – in their own self-interest. This is one to watch carefully as it will see a major shift in the politics when it comes.

The second tipping point in 2012 was the clear evidence that a disruptive economic shift is already underway in the global energy market. There are two indicators of this, with the first being the much noted acceleration in the size of the renewable energy market with dramatic price reductions and the arrival of cost competitive solar and wind. It is hard to overstate the significance of this as it changes the game completely, as various recent reports have shown.

Rooftop solar for example has grown so fast it is now eroding the profitability of major utilities by taking away their high margin income – peak pricing – and reducing demand. This is already seeing major economic disruption to companies and national economic infrastructure as this report from UBS on developments in Europe shows, with major shutdowns of coal plants now inevitable.

Of equal importance, and partly triggered by these market shifts, is the awakening of the sleeping giant of carbon risk, with open discussion in mainstream financial circles of the increasing dangers in financial exposure to fossil fuels. This has been coming for several years because of the financial risk inherent in the carbon bubble. As Phil Preston and I argued in a paper in 2010 and I further elaborated in The Great Disruption, the contradiction between what the science says is essential and the growth assumptions made by the fossil fuel industry is so large it represents a systemic global financial risk. This has been well articulated and more deeply explored by groups like Carbon Tracker who have been taking the argument to the mainstream finance sector.

In 2012 this hit home, with significant economic and financial players like the IEA, HSBC and S&P talking about the concept of unburnable carbon and the financial risks in both investing in fossil fuels and in lending to coal, oil and gas projects. HSBC forecast a market value loss of 40 – 60% for oil and gas majors if the world acted to keep below 2 degrees. The IEA forecast the revenue loss in that scenario for the global coal industry would be  $1 trillion every year by 2035.

Combined, these two tipping points present the opportunity for the broad climate movement to achieve success, if they are understood and responded to appropriately by the activist, policy and business communities. But first they must be seen for what they are  – indications we are poised on the edge of a truly historic economic transformation – the end of fossil fuels and the building of a huge new industry sector.

  • To summarise:
  • - The science shows how we are not just failing to slow down climate change, but are in fact accelerating towards the cliff.
  • - In response, mainstream organisations focused on the global economy are becoming increasingly desperate in their calls for action, fearing the economic consequences if we don’t.  They are arguing that the only way the world can avoid the risk of breakdown is to transform the economy urgently and dramatically.
  • - Our capacity to do so is now real and practical, with the technologies required already being deployed at very large scale and at competitive cost. The size of the business opportunity now on offer is truly breathtaking.
  • - In response, the financial markets are waking up to the transformation logic – if the future is based in renewables and these are price competitive without subsidy, or soon will be, the transformation could sweep the economy relatively suddenly, even without further government leadership.
  • - This then puts in place an enormous and systemic financial risk – in particular investments in, or debt exposure to, the multi-trillion $ fossil fuel industry.
  • - This risk is steadily being increased by activist campaigns against fossil fuel projects (worsening each projects’ financial risk) and arguing for fossil fuel divestment (putting investors reputation in play as well).
  • - In response investors and lenders will reduce their exposure to fossil fuels and hedge their risk by shifting their money to high growth renewables.
  • - This will then reinforce and manifest the very trend they are hedging against.
  • - Thus it’s game on.

Is that it? Can we now sit back and expect the market deal with this?

Most definitely not.  It is probably true that the market would sort this out by itself if we had 60 years for it to do so. But we don’t. The science is clear that we have less than 20  - and this is where the opportunity for the climate movement emerges and why the choice of focus and strategy is now is so important. The task at hand is clear for policy makers, for business and investors as well as for the activist community.  It’s acceleration of existing momentum – to slow down fossil fuels and speed up clean energy. To make the 60 year process, a 20 year one.

It is now realistic to imagine removing the coal, oil and gas industries from the economy in less than 20 years.  Doing so is required if we are to have an 80% or greater likelihood of preventing the climate warming past 2 degrees C, a point past where the system could spin out of control.

What we are now hearing from major international economic institutions is that this is a binary choice. Either this happens or we head for social and economic breakdown. As the World Bank argues, the latter “must not be allowed to occur”.

Timing is the key shift the world needs to make in its thinking – this is no longer about the future, it’s about now. We don’t have 20 years to decide to act; we have 20 years to complete the task. If we follow the science, then in 20 years we must have removed the coal, oil and gas industries from the economy and replaced them.  It’s simple, it’s urgent and perhaps most importantly, it’s now achievable.

History gives us many examples of dramatic economic shifts – like the arrival of the computer chip and with it, the internet, the emergence of communications technologies and other facilitators of globalisation. We also have many examples of “whoops” moments – points when we realise after the event something was a very bad idea. Like tobacco, asbestos, lead in fuels and paint, ozone depleting CFCs and various other chemicals. Collectively, this tells us something very important. While each case is different, we are capable of transformational economic change and while it’s often disruptive and always fiercely resisted, we regularly do it.  This is much larger in scale but the same processes apply.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that this kind of economic transition is OK. That’s how markets works and while it will be challenging and require huge effort, it will work out. Yes, huge amounts of wealth will be lost and gained in the process, industries, countries and cities will face massive economic and practical restructuring challenges and many people will suffer in the process. But that’s how market shifts happen.

Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase “creative destruction” to describe this process and to explain why it’s the underpinning strength of capitalism, calling it:  “A process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”

But while we can be comfortable that this process will deliver the required outcome, it’s not going to be smooth or pleasant for many participants. It will rather be messy, highly controversial and see huge amounts of value and employment both destroyed and created as the economy restructures around the necessary reality of a post fossil fuel economy.  I’m neither relaxed about this nor naïve about the scale of the challenge.  I just accept that it’s now inevitable. I also know we can do it and that we simply have no choice.

Of course, the losers will fight all the way to the end, using every argument, manoeuvre and delay they can think of. We should expect nothing else of them and, realistically, most of us would do likewise faced with similar circumstances. But they will still lose.

I do not however think we should demonise the fossil fuel industry or the people involved in it. The job to remove this industry has to be done – the future of civilisation literally depends on it – but we can do this firmly and clearly without making it personal.  As I’ve said in recent speeches on this topic – with some humour but a serious message – “we have to remove the coal, oil and gas industries from the economy with love and compassion.” This is the tough love of responsible parenting – the kids don’t like it but it’s still the right thing to do.

So with some surprise, this is where we find ourselves. It still won’t happen without focused and determined effort, but for the first time, we can envisage victory in the decades long fight on climate change. The science is clear, the technology is ready, significant sections of the elite are on side and the financial momentum is with us.

And this time, the economics is playing on the same side as the environment. Just in time.

100 Responses to Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?
  1. David Hallowes

    I would counsel against the use of triumphalist phrases like ‘victory is at hand’. It could conceivably make people, by which I mean the vast majority and not just the minority who are already on side, feel as if there is nothing to do and therefore ignore future messages.
    It could also be said to smack somewhat of ego and and as the old saying goes, pride comes before a fall. Hope and faith are wonderful but to be effective must be grounded in reality. The climate change movement in general should remember this. State your case, back it up, and keep it humble is probably the best thing to do.
    This is an interesting and useful article. Unsurprisingly it suggests, as the sources of the world’s water supplies continue to diminish, that action is needed on a global scale and quickly too…
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/03/22/world-water-day-2013-the-biggest-story-of-our-lifetime-is-water/

  2. Lynne

    I think that your article is way too optimistic. The fossil fuel people are working furiously to get all the fuel that they can as quickly as they can to market. They are proposing a 23 million gallon liquid propane tank in Searsport, Maine. This would obviously be used to export LPG gas as the US currently doesn’t import any LPG gas and other facilities that were built in the Northeast for import are being closed. The fossil fuel industry has no plans to slow down or help with the switch to renewable energies. The coal that we aren’t burning is being shipped to China. The more gas that is being drilled releases methane into the atmosphere, a climate change gas with real impact! And now the drilling of methane hydrates in the Arctic. If global warming doesn’t destroy us, the possibilities of nuclear power plant accidents will do us in with nuclear power plants being built at an accelerated pace all over the world ( And just Fukushimi alone could do in the northern hemisphere if the Unit 4 fuel pool collapses.) No as James Hansen said in an interview in New Mexico last week, if we burn the tar sands, its game over. So if all of these people are saying all of these optimistic things, then why did the US Senate just vote against a carbon tax. NO! There is no reason absolutely to think that anything is going in the right direction to avert climate change.

  3. Trevor Ockenden

    Sounds encouraging BUT until the system, that is, CAPITALISM has some basic flaws in its design altered we may simply change one set of problems for another. If this time of upheaval could also get us to refine Capitalism by putting the Earth’s survival as a habitable planet ahead of all else then that would truly be worth it.

  4. Ed

    Bloomberg Business week story about the ‘smart money’ seeking to profit from climate change: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-07/investors-embrace-climate-change-chase-hotter-profits.html

  5. fiona hayes

    If people support the barrister Polly Higgins in her campaign to erradicate ecocide by one smalll ammendment to the Rome statute then companies would have to put the future of the Planet ahead of the imprortance of profit. Currently they are legally bound to put profit ahead of planet. This legal anomoly can be changed and then the whole thing changes. Please go to http://eradicatingecocide.com/ and support this vital campaign

  6. [...] for change in human activity posted a wonderfully optimistic article. You can read it here http://paulg... winfriedsitte.com/2013/03/24/how-to-change-the-future-in-15-seconds
  7. Christian Favre

    It would be nice if we could wean ourselves off oil in the next 20 years as suggested here. But the average age of cars on the world’s roads is over 10 years, and, honestly, driving is fun, but not so much with an electric car. And many people in the developing world haven’t even tasted the pleasure of the car yet. I think it’s unlikely people will forgo this pleasure en masse in the next 20 years unless they’re coerced.
    The most realistic and effective strategy to combat global warming in my opinion is family planning and incentivising people to have only one child.

  8. Tony Mitra

    Considering how the economy and environment progressed through the post world war generations, it is hard to believe that a solution can be at hand that is market driven, and where folks are happy making money money while saving the planet in a general win-win situation.

    There is of course an economic incentive for like minded people to push for business plans that might cash in on some issues of climate change and make a buck. But the idea behind it is to make money, while climate change is a vehicle to use. There is not specific destination for the journey, except to make a profit on the way.

    Ultimately, solution would have to come without profit making as a side benefit. It is therefore believed that all the money, and the Governments and institutions it can influence, will fight any move that attempts to save the environment at the cost of profit making. It is for this reason many believe that climate change can only be arrested when the current economic and political system collapses through being too top heavy.

  9. Stephen Glanvile

    G’day Paul,

    Good to see you back and firing on all cylinders. As usual, I have to be careful when I read your articles as it usually takes me several hours because of the high quality comments and links…

    You never fail to generate quality discussion.

    In regard to this particular article, I have to admit that my first thought was – ‘Gee Paul! Has the consulting business slowed down a bit?’

    Then I read most of the comments as usual.

    In this particular instance I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said…and in particular, I couldn’t put it better than Guy Pearse (comment 22 March).

    That said, I hold out hope that my initial thoughts were wrong. Were they? :-P

    Cheers

    Stephen G

  10. Mark E

    Gilding needs to read more Gandhi, who did not want to kiss the British goodbye, but only their system of rule.

    Fossil fuel use is merely a symptom of nonstop economic growth, which is mandatory for happiness in capitalist societies. Even if we instantly deployed 100% clean tech, the nonstop – forever – attempt to increase the economy will simply make a new limiting factor manifest, and/or a new disequilibrium will threaten civilization as we know it.

    Remove the predators, and the rabbit population explodes until the grass is destroyed, thus destroying the rabbits.

    All economies that rely on perpetual growth are the true enemy. And no one is seriously talking about that, much less bringing “victory close to hand”

  11. Mike Roddy

    Sorry, Paul, nothing has changed. The fossil fuel companies still pull all the strings in the US, China, and practically everywhere else. They are smirking at the notion that scientists and activists have significant influence.

    If we were making progress, we would not be seeing a Senate vote in favor of Keystone, with 9 or so Democrats signing on. Or the firing of environmental reporters at LA Times and NY Times. Or massive fracking, or coal exports, or no carbon tax, etc, and no real movement on any of these.

    I’m shocked at your naivete. “More research” and celebrating victories as troops lay dead on the field are statements from a tout, not a thinker.

  12. Daniel Coffey

    For those who are aware of the $25 million given to Sierra Club by big players in the natural gas industry between 2007 and 2010, consider what will happen in the near future.

    Environmentalism will “crack down” on large-scale solar PV, wind and geothermal just enough to put them in bankruptcy or vulnerable to acquisition.

    Then fossil fuel money will acquire them, or enough to control them.
    And then let the great arbitrage begin between oil, coal, natural gas and electricity from renewable energy sources.

    Even now, it’s just developers who do the front end work and then other big money comes in and buys the renewable projects when they succeed.

    As for rooftop solar PV leasing, that is in the process of seeking money via “securitizing” and acquisition by investors and pension funds, etc. You think that thing on your roof it owned by small mom and pop firm X, but its really just part of a large portfolio, just like your mortgage.

    When you think you are winning, you are not paying attention to what is happening on the ground.

    Just as with the oil industry, private ownership over the means to produce non-carbon electricity at ever higher prices is the end-game objective. What is now in the hands of regulated utilities and serves both rich and poor, will fall neatly into the portfolios of those who know how to bottle water at a profit. The technology of renewable energy is a miracle, but it’s an investor’s nightmare because it keeps getting cheaper and more plentiful. The profits of scarcity and controlling higher prices is that to which we can look forward.

    Is that winning? Remember Charlie Sheen?

  13. FWhite

    Request for clarification –

    Paul writes: “We are in the midst of two simultaneous tipping points” but then fails to make explicitly clear what those tipping points are.

    My best guess is he is referring to “melting of Arctic sea ice” and “temperature increase of 4C”.

    But then, further along in the article he writes: “another major tipping point…non-fossil fuel companies…demanding climate action…” followed by “The second tipping point in 2012…shift in the energy market…”

    At this point I am thoroughly confused by his unfortunate use of “tipping point” in an economic and not a climate science context.

    Is it just me or were any other readers confused by this switch?

  14. Jan freed

    With all the supposed trillions controlled be those on our side, why are projects like Keystone so attractive to Congress. Why doesn’t some wealthy conglomerate put up its own billions, seduce the GOP, etc?

  15. Krow Fischer

    Thank you, so very much for writing this as well as you did. Thank you.

  16. Michael Dowd

    Paul, this post moved me to tears.

    Just this morning my science writer wife, Connie Barlow, and I finished reading aloud to each other John Michael Greer’s book, “The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered,” which we loved! (In the past two months we’ve also read your book and the latest from James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and Richard Heinberg, among others.)

    Connie and are “big history / big integrity evangelists” We travel North America non-stop and have spoken to more than 1,700 groups over the past decade — from atheists to evangelicals. Lately we’ve begun preaching and teaching mostly on how climate is calling humanity into it’s greatness — focusing, especially, on trying to inspire and empower people to responsibly be in action from a place of love and compassion, as you can see here:

    Preaching on Climate Change:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-michael-dowd/preaching-on-climate-change_b_2745317.html

    I will now be telling everyone that this post of yours is a “must read”.

    Thank you!

    Keep up the great work!

    Co-evolutionarily,

    ~ Michael
    http://thegreatstory.org/MD-writings.html

  17. Sailesh Rao

    If the transition to clean energy will be completed within the next 20 years, then the transition to veganism ought to be completed far sooner so that the excess carbon that we’ve emitted into the atmosphere gets sequestered in the regenerating forests well before the transition to clean energy occurs. This is to overcome the aerosol effect.

    Consider a thought experiment where we replace all our energy sources with clean alternatives overnight. In that case, within the next year we will see a global temperature spike on the order of 0.5C-1C. This is because aerosols disappear from the atmosphere in a matter of weeks, thereby clearing the atmosphere for the sun to shine brightly on our silly heads and potentially trigger other nasty positive feedback loops in the climate system.

    Please remember that with the GHG we’ve already emitted, we’re committed to an additional 0.7C rise in temperature, with aerosols accounting for an additional 0.5C-1.5C rise in temperature when we stop emitting them. Therefore, the expected temperature rise with our current atmospheric GHG levels is already 2C-3C from pre-industrial levels, which is why Bill McKibben keeps talking about 350ppm.

    The carbon sequestration that needs to occur in the regenerating forests should cover all the GHGs emitted over the next 20 years during the transition to clean energy PLUS the excess beyond 350ppm (or 320ppm according to some sources) that would keep us in a stable climate.

    In other words, we need to have gone vegan yesterday if your timetable is correct.

  18. Tony Weddle

    So why, many ask, has it so far not succeeded in its objective of reducing CO2 emissions? Much has been written on this topic but most of it is wrong. It is simply an incredibly big job to turn on its head the global economy’s underpinning energy system. And so it has taken a while.

    This sounds like whitewashing, letting all those who could influence matters off the hook. So, given that all these governments understand the situation and want to do something about it, they haven’t been able to do anything to stop emissions rising because the energy infrastructure is so huge? In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s getting bigger. Emissions are not even stabilising; they are growing.

    No, there is no evidence that we’re on the brink of a great victory. In any case, climate change can’t be stopped or reversed; we have to start thinking in terms of adapting to the changing climate, but governments aren’t even doing that – economic growth is their only target.

    Mind you, we all contribute to the predicament, so I’m not just picking on governments but they clearly should be leading.

  19. [...] portraits of individuals, companies and cities moving forward, embracing the rocky road ahead.  As Paul... joansullivanphotography.com/blog/?p=68
  20. robbert veerman

    Sailesh Rao plumps for vegan. That’s a tough demand but it is imperative we make rapid strides that direction.
    I think we can offer another attractive personal adjustment. Shopping less, consuming less, working less, yields more of the freedoms which add value to life.
    We in the West keep goading the third world into following us by selling them the idea that wealth buys freedom. We have to stop leading like this because we need them to stop following.
    We, per capita, consume at 5 times the earths capacity. We need to go into reverse. When? Now!
    Fixing the energy problem remains vital but nowhere enough.

  21. Robert Care

    Great article Paul. Let’s keep up the fight as you say, and let’s be compassionate. But let’s us all note that there is a lot of parallel world stuff going on here. By that I mean many many sensible discussions, sensible that is excepting there is no consideration of what you have just written. Debating a percentage point here or there while ignoring climate change. Sensible people behind closed doors who assure – ‘it is all done’, when it is not. Definitely still all to play for.

    Maintain the effort Paul.

  22. Tabitha

    We are about to reach a population of 23 million. Where is the outrage? The Greens stay just as silent as the major parties. How on earth can we reduce carbon emissions when we add over one million people to Australia every 3 years? As population increases, so does pollution, land degradation, energy demand and so on. the only solution is to vote for a stable population at the next election. http://www.populationparty.org.au

  23. Nazar singh manshahia

    In my country,where population has already crossed a billion and annual addition is equal to the population of Australia,how can one think about reduction in the concentration of green house gases.With increasing demand for food and other requirements exploitation of natural resources is increasing on faster rate.Selfishness and unending greed indiscriminately polluting water and air.Until and unless our political leaders don”t become honest and aware of their responsibility towards environment,nothing can be achieved.

  24. John Treat

    There is only hope once we abandon our attachment to optimism.

  25. [...] economics is playing on the same side as the environment. Just in time. Originally posted at the Cock... thinkingwithoutoil.org/two/?p=1469
  26. Karen Bell

    It is well worth reading the body of work by Barbara Marx Hubbard and her colleagues.Gives yet another worldview and where we are and where we are heading from a multi-billion year evolutionary perspective.

  27. Mike Sosebee

    I hate to rain on Paul’s victory parade but let’s talk about what’s really going on: The population of the world is growing (births minus deaths) by 200,000 people daily. 43% of the ecosystems on the planet (including the oceans) have “changed states” or “de-evolved” due to human interference. Carbon emissions rise exponentially and the fossil fuel industries have the U.S. in a death-grip. Over 60 percent of US waterways cannot support aquatic life. 200 species go extinct daily. We may “have already tipped 10 lethal feedback loops for accelerated climate change”. Any coherent appraisal of the situation would lead one to conclude: “our goose is cooked”.

  28. GERALD FALBEL

    I think Paul Gilding is smoking something, and it is NOT generating CO2! China and India are generating CO2 emissions at an exponentially increasing rate, the icecaps are melting faster than ever, which will increase global warming as reflective ice gives way to absorbing water or land.

  29. Paul Gilding

    Gerald.
    China is a far more complex picture than you suggest and it is not at clear that their coal consumption will continue to rise. See for example this
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/17/1878501/as-china-addresses-its-airpocalypse-coal-exporters-fear-loss-of-another-market/

    Paul

  30. Trackback: Duncan Noble
    [...] large (OK, very large, perhaps ginormous) banks are saying this, perhaps Paul Gilding is right that Vict... carbonexplorer.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/31
  31. mct

    “stable climate, though still a changed one”

    Could you just define what that might mean, please?

  32. Paul Gilding

    mct
    This refers to the fact that the climate has and will change further, but we are still able to stabilise it i.e. prevent the feedback mechanisms (e.g. melting tundra and resulting methane release ) taking over and overwhelming human capacity to influence the process. For example see here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/27/doha-climate-conference-un-methane

    Thus the consequences if we achieve a “stable but changed climate” would still be challenging and have consequences, but not risk collapse.
    Paul

  33. Todd Flach

    Thanks for this Paul! I believe the process that will seal the “victory” is in the end demographics. The current set of baby boomers running the world who mostly stand in the way of change in general will soon be retired and replaced by the next generation. The new decision makers wil not carry all the business-as-usual baggage, and change will happen fast, including all the new energy and climate change paradigms required to solve our current mess.

  34. [...] was prompted to examine it more closely after reading this article by Gilding. I appreciate optimism. Bu... decarbonisesa.com/2013/04/22/gilding-a-weak-argument-against-nuclear
  35. [...] Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?, Paul Guilding [...]... craigspencewriter.ca/2013/03/21/green-clippings-march-21-2013-2
  36. [...] Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?, Paul Guilding [...]... craigspencewriter.ca/2013/03/21/green-clippings-march-21-2013-2
  37. [...] Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?, Paul Guilding [...]... craigspencewriter.ca/2013/03/21/green-clippings-march-21-2013-2
  38. [...] Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?, Paul Guilding [...]... craigspencewriter.ca/2013/03/21/green-clippings-march-21-2013-2
  39. [...] also take great inspiration from Paul Gilding.  His matter-of-fact approach — that we need to sto... artistsandclimatechange.com/2013/06/29/joan-sullivan-living-on-the-edge
  40. [...] as well start right out with the fairly good news just for the novelty. Suppose we told you that Victory... enviroshow.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/the-breaking-wind-enviro-show
  41. Leif Knutsen

    Leif here, from the PNW and Climate Progress commentators.
    Always nice to cross trails with you but I tend to believe you get a bit optimistic. Never-the-less I hope you are correct. I have been in this fight to varying degrees for over 40 years. Time is running out for this old codger. It is always darkest before the dawn.

    The fundamental flaw, IMO, with western capitalism is the ability of the few to profit from the pollution of the commons. The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must “We the People” be forced to fund the ecocide of the planet via subsidies to the Fossil Barons and Wall Street Greed Mongers?
    Tax revolt anyone? The original Tea Party was against taxation without representation, if memory serves me correct. This is a far more deserving cause. This is taxation that supports “Toastville” for the Kidders as well as ecocide of Earth’s life support systems.

    Go GREEN. Resistance is fatal to Earth’s life support systems.

    Two Palms up, Leif

  42. Wayne Gerber

    Coal imports by China are going down because of environmental regulations and slow growth…

    From the Wall St. Journal: “China’s appetite for coal, once seemingly unlimited, is starting to wane, and the effects are rippling far from the Middle Kingdom.”

    See http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324886704579052970699081290.

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