In the last two days we have lost two milestones of the 20th century: Henry Kissinger, 100, and Charles T. Munger, 99.
While the first person – the most experienced and appreciated diplomat and POTUS advisor ever – may sound known to you, the second person will be known if we add he was “much more than Warren Buffett’s No.2” as the New York Times defined him.
The first one dealt with the world politics and diplomacy and the second one dealt with finance, actually very large financial investments.
And today, 30th Nov 2023, the COP28 kicks off in Dubai.
How do these three pieces of news get interconnected? Let’s start with the latter.
Until 12th Dec 2023, we hope that during the COP28 – the 28th Conference Of the Parties of the UNFCCC (United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change) – governments would find agreements on industrial and environmental strategies, energy transition, reduction of fossil fuels usage, enhancement of clean energy, promotion of electro-mobility, etc.. When reading several newspapers and talking with some colleagues, I note a high degree of scepticism about the real success of this kind of event.
Too many times we have read of high-level executives, diplomats, politicians travelling to COPs with private jets that were congesting (and polluting) the airports and the skies where the COP was held. This doesn’t look as a good example of lifestyle change and attention to our planet health.
In the past COP editions, when the emissions cutting was the leitmotiv in every meeting, representatives of some countries – including China and India – complained that as the “Western” countries had many decades to grow their economies (while generating a lot of pollution), now it is right time for these countries to grow their economies and GDPs, even if this would mean delaying the ban of using fossil fuels. That’s why they ask at least a few decades more (e.g. 2070) before switching to cleaner energy sources. While someone points out that this would mean additional toxic pollution generated, they seem not to care while forgetting that the ongoing climate change doesn’t regard only a few countries, but the entire world and related population.
The lack of reaching agreements or achieving the ambitious targets discussed in 2015 in Paris seem more an economical issue than an environmental problem. Energy/Ecological transitions cost money and nobody would like to invest this money now as this would reduce companies profits and, consequently, countries GDPs.
This goes back to investments, and the willingness to allocate money for the good of human species, instead of looking at profit only. Despite the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accomplished by 2030, we too often hear about greenwashing.
This term was actually coined back in 1986 in an essay by the environmentalist and then student Jay Westerveld and identifies the act of making false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product or practice. It can be a way for companies to continue or expand their polluting as well as related harmful behaviors, all while gaming the system or profiting off well-intentioned, sustainably minded consumers (source: NRDC, National Resources Defence Council).
Again, to make more money, companies deliberately lie about the “greenness” of their products or services.
Green investments may not pay back soon, but they are inevitable to survive. Sadly, not many are interested in this topic as they prefer short-term rewards instead of long-term better quality of life.
Finally, politics and diplomacy. Well, we all know hard decisions should be made after long conversations, debates, honest exchange of viewpoints where rational and objectives reasons should win over subjective interests. Leading many stakeholders to find an agreement about arguable themes and different perspectives needs a good amount of high-quality diplomacy, which in these days is pretty scarce.
EPN Consulting and EPN Consulting Research & Innovation Founder & CEO