Still Hope for Climate Sanity

It certainly hasn’t been a great month for Climate Resilience, as the new US Administration, led by global warming sceptics, started to gut environmental policies, people, programs, and budgets. At the same time, prioritising nationalism ahead of Internationalism, and publicly threatening to back out of US Paris Agreement leadership commitments and financial obligations.

This is seriously bad news, and it’s fair to assume that the kind of US global Climate leadership, that we saw under the Obama Administration - with its joint Heads of State and G20 outreach for progressively tougher Paris targets and its multibillion dollar US funding vision - is now history. In fact, the hidden agenda may be worse than has been revealed so far with short term politico-economic wins trumping long term planetary and humanity well-being (pun intended).

But all is not yet lost there are several elements to add to the mix that yet may save the Paris dynamics.

First “Patience” – despite the proposed gutting of US climate programs it takes more than campaign trail rhetoric, 140 letter tweets and executive orders to destroy the action already in train. We can expect heavy legal, media and local political challenges, as well as countermanding State and City action for Climate resilience. This is a long transformation game, even though the short term has been dealt a very tough blow that is still unfolding.

Second “Business Acumen” - while oil and coal companies, as well as billionaire oligarchs support the rekindled fossil fuel love affair, the vast majority of business leaders don’t. There is no better example than Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric blogging employees that climate change is real, the science well accepted, GE is saving money by responding smartly with positive customer reaction.

Third “Market Forces” - the fact is the price trend of clean energy is moving sharply down as the availability is moving sharply up. And across the world business, citizens and governments are challenging vested fossil fuel subsidies. And then there are jobs - the new ones will be in the green growth sweet spot around the world, including the US, not in coal or oil powered infrastructure and consumption.

Fourth “Geopolitics” – even if the US were to renege on Paris, it would take some time to disentangle, and the other nations will still aggressively pursue clean energy over dirty. So despite the unhealthy potential alignment of autocrats, oligarchs and near-sighted politicians, there is still time to fight for a tough response to the one global challenge that is widely recognized as existential. We may yet be surprised, this week when President’s Xi and Trump meet to discuss a range of immediate massive global challenges, that the one concession that might come from the unpredictable US leader is that they can agree that climate change is a real near term jobs opportunity, as well as a long-term existential threat.

And that’s where SUNx has its place, in the vitally important Travelism sector, the multi-trillion-dollar Travel & Tourism ecosystem with its infrastructure, services, and supply chain. Our local focus on Climate Resilience and Impact -Travel, which is measured, green at the core and 2050 future linked, will hopefully serve as a beacon for smart lifestyle adaptation to today’s inexorably warming world.


Professor Geoffrey Lipman co-founder of SUNx - is also President of ICTP and former leader in IATA, WTTC and UNWTO.


Geoffrey Lipman, SUNx Co-founder



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