Forward to Prosper: the Future of Climate Action

MARRAKECH—The world is moving ahead with collaborative innovation for a diverse adaptive clean future economy. The Paris Agreement is the strongest market signal ever sent, heralding a planet-wide shift in tens of trillions of dollars of investment over the next three decades to sustainable carbon-free energy. We must move forward to prosper.

What we know about the future of climate action is that the direction of travel is clear, technology has advanced too far to allow for a high-carbon, combustion-driven future, and the world-leading economy of this century will be the economy that pioneers the pathway to full climate resilience, near-zero marginal-cost power generation, and decentralized and integrated technological and entrepreneurial capability. No nation can afford to be left out of the smart, clean, hyper-efficient low-carbon economy of the future.

Over the last two days, it has become clear that, through quirks of the Electoral College system, Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States of America. Trump has said he believes climate science is “a hoax” invented by China to steal jobs.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby has responded with a message to citizen volunteers, and to people working around the world for a thriving climate future. The article—“Scaling the Cliff: Climate Advocacy under a Trump Presidency”—calls for both a solemn recognition of the challenge ahead and a renewed commitment to responsible action.

Mark Reynolds, CCL’s executive director issued a statement urging climate advocates to take a moment to process the new reality. “Take today—and perhaps the next—to acknowledge your grief and do what you need to do to work through it, whether it is screaming to the point of hoarseness or crying to the point of dehydration… and then come back.”

We have a fundamental responsibility to avoid causing harm to future generations. The United States Constitution calls for collaboration in support of active republican democracy “to secure to ourselves and to our posterity the blessings of liberty”. We cannot do that, if we do not stop committing huge sums of investment to practices that degrade the natural systems that sustain life and provide the foundation for sustainable prosperity.

The global transition to a climate-resilient low-carbon economy is the biggest investment opportunity in the history of the world. China and Europe have recognized this. 195 nations, including the United States, have recognized this. A decision to finance the technologies of the past will not stop this innovation-focused global investment opportunity. Technology itself has already advanced too fast to permit us to go backward in terms of future energy planning.

What we know about the future of climate action is that it will continue to gather momentum, expand its reach, and take root at the heart of every economy in the world. Those that opt to postpone the date when their national economy is fully climate resilient will remove themselves from the global economic leadership of this century. The climate issue is already beyond politics, even if some participants in the political process don’t understand the power and resonance of this fact.

Rapid decarbonization and low-carbon development across the full spectrum of human activities is how we will unite disenfranchised communities dependent on old technologies with world-leading investment practices and clean national development strategies. Though some will continue to play politics with rhetoric the rest of the world has long left behind, the building of a cleaner, smarter, more sustainable and democratic future is underway.

No world leader will succeed by opposing anyone’s access to this better future. Now, more than ever, it is for citizens to build the civic space where the path to a clean future is self-evident and irreversible.