This week, leaders from around the world have descended on San Francisco for Gov. Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) and its affiliate events, to celebrate past and commit to future actions to curb climate change. The hope is that, collectively, these commitments from states, cities, businesses and other organizations will be enough to counter the current climate policy regression in Washington. No doubt, commitments will be made — but talk is cheap unless we can find a way to make the walk profitable.
There’s a longstanding narrative that ecology and economy are natural adversaries — you can’t take climate action without killing jobs and stifling growth. In fact, our current President peddled this as one of his primary motivations for deciding to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. This narrative is plain wrong.
The high cost of climate inaction is self-evident. Here in California, as well as across the US West and Southwest, rampant wildfires have consumed our summers, which could cost the economy billions, not to mention the human price in terms of lives lost and ruined. Meanwhile, other regions are bracing for what could be yet another year of record-breaking hurricanes and floods.
But we shouldn’t fixate on these costs alone. Our energies are better spent focusing on the financial benefits of climate action.
As a Bay Area native, it may have been inevitable that I’d develop a strong environmental conscience. But as a Harvard-trained physicist, it was my scientific mind that made me realize the world can’t wait for a global kumbaya moment or breakthrough science. To stop climate change now, we need to make it profitable and easy for people to act. (…)
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