April 15, 2022 - ESG and Climate News
Will it be different this time?
With last week’s dire warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report still reverberating, world leaders' made the predictable, if regrettable, choice to re-embrace fossil fuels in light of soaring fuel prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
We have seen this before. Despite the lofty promises to address the looming climate crisis, tangible actions are shelved or reversed when more urgent matters take center stage. To some extent, this is understandable. Humans are notoriously bad at considering long-term consequences - especially if there are pressing matters at hand - no matter the magnitude of those consequences.
In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel and his colleagues at Stanford University conducted the marshmallow experiment with four- and five-year-old preschool children. The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child ate the marshmallow they would not get a second marshmallow. Most picked the immediate reward. (Interestingly, subsequent studies showed the kids who waited became more successful adults).
The point is, we are terrible at thinking long-term. Since we cannot predict what will happen in the future, we make choices that benefit us in the short term.
But maybe, just maybe, that is changing when it comes to climate. A group called Scientist Rebellion sent over 1200 scientists protesting in streets of 26 countries - with some being arrested.
The scientists were joined by groups, such as the Extinction Rebellion who shut down Lloyds of London, the world’s largest insurance marketplace, in response to Lloyd's support of fossil fuel projects. Protesters also glued fliers and themselves to the Shell’s headquarters in London, and in Washington DC, they shut down the I-395 freeway.
One small step for man
Among those breaking the law is NASA scientist Peter Kalmus, who along with three other scientists, chained himself to the JP Morgan Chase building in Los Angeles to draw attention to the bank’s status as the largest financier of the fossil fuel industry. His point is that we are stuck in “a global bystander effect” and that more people should engage in climate disobedience.
Climate activism is not radical
The climate activists claim nonviolent civil disobedience is their last resort as nothing else is working. The global demonstrations were fueled in part by last week’s strong rhetoric from UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres: “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels."
Even the judges presiding over court proceedings for arrested activists have been swayed by the cause. One judge praised the Insulate Britain Protests, saying “They have inspired me and personally I intend to do what I can to reduce my own impact on the planet, so to that extent, your voices are certainly heard.” The judge said the protesters had “no doubt” been acting in a way they believed was “morally right” but had still committed a criminal offense and handed down fines of £120 to £200.
Missed last week's ESG & Climate News? Check it out now and stay in the know: April 8, 2022.
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