There’s a lot of work to do as the world heads into 2018. Fortunately, many organizations and people are working on putting together the financial resources, technology and partnerships to make a sustainable future possible. While the world has made a lot of progress, there is room to grow on issues in sustainable development. Here is a look at some of the conversations happening in impact-investing communities about the environment, and things to keep in mind as we head into a new year of conversations about our world’s future.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development On the first day of 2016, the United Nations put a set of goals in place with the aim of reducing the impact of a number of social ills. This agenda unanimously was adopted by 193 heads of state and other leaders. It serves as a shared vision for the future of humanity, and a contract between the world’s people to be good stewards. The plan set out 17 sustainability goals for developed and developing countries around the world to work on over the course of 15 years. Among these goals were to eliminate poverty and hunger, promote equality in all forms, combat diseases and mortality, provide access to education, and maintain environmental sustainability with the help of a global partnership. You can view all the UN Sustainable Development Goals here. With the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference completed and all the conversation surrounding developments in clean energy, it’s naturally been a topic among sustainable and responsible investors.
Responsibility and Clean Energy Science has found evidence of a warming planet; the signs are here, and they’re costing global communities money. Health and infrastructure are threatened, and certain business sectors such as agriculture lose money from extreme weather events like hurricanes and droughts. Rising sea levels threaten coastal towns, and the costs to adapt to the planet’s changes will be enormous.
A recent study of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from fossil-fuel products analyzed and quantified the impacts of these emissions. The peer-reviewed study looked at two time periods in emissions history: the changes that took place between 1880 and 2010; and the changes between 1980 and 2010, during the time when carbon producers knew about the risks of their business. What the study found is emissions traced to 90 of the largest carbon producers were responsible for more than half of the observed rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, nearly half of the rise in temperature, and 30 percent of the rise in global sea level since 1880 levels.
Investor-owned carbon producers didn’t fare much better. From 1880 to 2010, they were responsible for about 16 percent of the global average temperature increase, and 11 percent of global sea level rise. During 1980 to 2010, after they knew about how the use of their products released carbon dioxide and methane could contribute to shifts in climate, approximately 10 percent of the global average temperature increase and 4 percent of the sea level rise could be attributed to them.
What Needs to Be Done? Some of the policy debates and discussions about climate revolves around who should be held responsible for the extreme weather events. These discussions often turn to fossil fuel producers, who knew about the potential risks of their business for decades, and could have taken steps to reduce those risks. Instead, these companies kept information from the public and investors, and carried on with business when they could have been limiting emissions and helping reverse the climate changes for which their products were partly responsible. Right now, taxpayers are footing the bill for damages that happen because of weather events. It would be better if we had a world where these damages were nonexistent or extremely reduced, and if the companies that knew about the risks helped to repair or adapted to these changes.
Turning the broader vision of a better world into a reality is the responsibility of countries. Countries can take it upon themselves to form partnerships that make the ambitious goals of the 2030 agenda possible. This doesn’t mean smaller regions and communities need to be left out; progress reviews by different groups of people, including interest groups, businesses and civil society, are necessary to ensure changes are undertaken responsibly. But on an issue that’s so divisive, how do we come together to have those conversations?
We can have conversations based on progress and innovation. Protecting our environment from extreme changes and conserving our natural resources involves many people and many voices. We need people working on clean energy solutions that will open a renewable energy market. New technology and energy solutions could help the nation produce clean energy independently, and some of these developments will enable homes to exist “off the grid” and generate their own power. There are a lot of ways to help the planet and reverse drastic changes to the environment; what matters is making sure we’re talking about these solutions in the right ways, and ensuring we invest our time, money and energy in projects worth taking on.
Start a Sustainability Conversation With Falcons Rock Impact Investments The world is changing faster than anyone can anticipate, and it’s worth talking about. To ensure we protect our planet and everyone on it for years to come, it’s worth investing sustainably and having conversations about what that means. Responsible investors should talk to Falcons Rock Impact Investments about what impact their money could have on companies, the environment and people. We screen all the vehicles we offer our investors, to ensure they meet our standards for social, environmental and governance criteria, as well as financial performance. Everyone has a stake in our planet’s future, and everyone can contribute. A well-placed investment may reduce emissions, ensure affected communities get the resources they need, and help develop science-based solutions for upcoming changes. Learn more about how our impact investing process works, and start a conversation about your responsible investing future.