Our Recent Reports on the State of the Transformation

May 4, 2013

Recently we completed a global strategic survey of the state of the Green Economy for a client. This is the fourth such “state of the art” report we have done for a client in the past year: after Life Beyond Growth, we did two other global reviews, one on the Share Economy (for a large Japanese company), and one on the state of knowledge and learning programs in sustainable development (for the United Nations, see below).

Is my head spinning? You bet it is. For two main reasons:

On the one hand, there are signs of continued and accelerating transformation everywhere. From China’s trillion-dollar commitment to green economy investments, to Germany’s “Energiwende” (dramatic and accelerated conversion to renewables), to the growing trend to put the cost of damaging the environment onto national and corporate balance sheets, the world is changing. Fast.

On the other hand, every day brings more information about how the pace of change — dramatic though it is — is much slower than we need, if we are to meet our goals. That phrase “meet our goals” is deceptive:  it sounds so optional. But the goals we are talking about include turning the tide on global warming, saving ecosystems, and avoiding resource crises, all while lifting a couple of billion people out of poverty and finding ways for all seven (and eventually nine) billion of us to be healthy and satisfied with the quality of our lives.

And if you look at the numbers, most people (such as the International Energy Agency) calculate that we need trillions in investment — that is, at least a trillion US dollars per year — to make the conversion we need in global energy systems. We need to make sure that every kid can read a schoolbook after dark, that every kitchen has access to clean ways to cook food; but we also need to repower the world in the face of a melting arctic and increasing superstorms.

How close are we to trillions? Not even. The most ambitious program (apart from China’s current 5-year, $1.28 billion internal commitment) now on the books is the Green Climate Fund. It is supposed to be a $100 billion fund, but last I heard, they had less then $6 million in firm country commitments. More will surely come, of course … but it is unclear how much, how fast.

Is there hope? Always. One particularly bright spot is about to hit the presses in June, a report by WWF and CDP in the United States called “The 3% Solution.” You can get yourself on the list to be among the first notified about its release, here:http://the3percentsolution.org.  We helped with the process (though we did not do that particular report), and we’ve seen how very knowledgeable people are reacing to the numbers and the logic, which shows how companies can seriously accelerate carbon emissions reduction, at a profit — and they react very positively. Please put that on your radar, so that the word spreads quickly once the report comes out (which will be soon).

Until next time,

Alan AtKisson

Update: the report is out! Download it here.

The 3 Percent Solution
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