The threat of climate change is not one that can be addressed with just technological developments – economics and finance are also needed to provide a more holistic approach to the problem. In an interview Larry Brilliant, CEO for Skoll Global Threats Fund, issued a call for business owners to adopt a long-term view of threats to the global economy, and for more investments in clean technology. These investments may just come from what are currently fossil fuel subsidies, as the WWF urges governments to convert billions of dollars into investments in clean, renewable energy. Read more
JOURNAL REPORTS (30 March 2013):
Climate Change Is the Risk That Increases All Others
Larry Brilliant is president and CEO of Skoll Global Threats Fund, an organization devoted to building alliances and finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Climate change is the greatest risk we face. It’s the great exacerbater. It exacerbates the risk of pandemics. It exacerbates the risks of water. It exacerbates the risk of conflict. Take a look at South Asia, where China owns the ice, India owns the water and has 21 dams, and Pakistan and Bangladesh are out of luck. Pakistan’s entire food production is dependent on two other nuclear-armed countries.
On CEO priorities
Joe White, Senior Editor for The Wall Street Journal, talks with Larry Brilliant, CEO for Skoll Global Threats Fund, about how innovators are working to answer some of the world’s most complex social challenges.
I was the CEO of two public companies. When I’m looking at quarterly profits, I start working on the next 90 days before this 90 days is over. How can I look up, in all honesty, and say, “There’s an odorless, colorless, tasteless, invisible gas that’s going to destroy the world 20 years from now”?
Our structure is wrong. The incentive system is misaligned with having these powerful, strong, smart CEOs focus on the issues ahead.
Climate change has an extremely high probability if you’re looking at a 20-year time frame. But in a quarter, it has a low probability.
On what’s holding back clean-energy investment
When Steve Jobs got his genome sequenced, it was $100,000. Within five years, it’ll be $100 or $200. If I was a businessperson, I would say, “There’s a tremendous amount of money to be made in the combination of big data, epidemiological analysis and what’s going to be a treasure trove of data from genomic sequencing.” Who’s going to be trying to find the new drugs? Who’s going to try to find the effect of drugs already on genes? That’s the place that I would be looking as an investor. Not climate.
We’re truly not going to make a huge change [on attacking global warming] unless we have a price on carbon. Until there’s a price on carbon and entrepreneurs know what to aim at and companies know what to produce, we’re not going to make that huge progress that we need.
A version of this article appeared March 26, 2013, on page R2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Climate Change Is the Risk That Increases All Others.
Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Must Be Transformed into Financing for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
In AZoCleantech.com (30 March 2013):
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The continued maintenance of fossil fuel subsidies is a global scandal and governments should work to transform these subsidies into financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy, says WWF, responding to a report released today by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) report Energy Subsidy Reform: Lessons and Implications shines a much needed light on the dark side of fossil fuel subsidies.
The IMF assessment shows that global fossil fuel subsidies – including carbon pollution impacts from fossil fuels – account for almost 9% of all annual country budgets – amounting to a staggering $US 1.9 trillion, much higher than previously estimated. And importantly, says WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith, the report confirms that the poorest 20% of developing countries only marginally benefit from energy subsidies.
“Removing these subsidies would reduce carbon pollution by 13%. This would be a major step towards reducing the world’s carbon footprint. Maintenance of these subsidies is a global scandal, a crime against the environment and an active instrument against clean energy and technological innovation. We strongly support transforming fossil fuel subsidies into an effective scheme for financing energy efficiency and renewables and making sure that the poor in developing countries benefit appropriately and receive clean, affordable and reliable energy,” she says.
The IMF findings show that almost half of fossil fuel subsidies occur in OECD nations. The US, with about $US 500 billion annually, accounts for more than one quarter of all global fossil fuel subsidies, followed by China with almost $US 300 billion and Russia ($US 115 billion).
WWF Global Energy Policy Director Stephan Singer says industrialised countries are responsible for the lion’s share of fossil fuel subsidies and should act now to stop them. “If they were to abolish those subsidies and reform towards renewables and energy efficiency investments, it would more than triple present global investment into renewables,” he says. “And that is what is needed for a world powered by 100% sustainable renewables.”