5 Cases for Hope in 2022: #2 Climate

This is the 2nd of a series of 5 posts on “5 Cases for Hope in 2022” – see https://www.linkedin.com/company/2257207

Last October, COP26 raised awareness of how critical the climate crisis is and how far we have to go while the clock is ticking on our carrying capacity. But the wake of this global event also brought signs of hope. Especially notable are some emerging solutions- and re-sets on existing paths of progress- that we can learn to leverage to accelerate progress.

  1. Reducing: While governments’ nationally determined commitments (NDCs) are falling short of the targets needed to meet the 1.5°C maximum target, commitments being made by global businesses will help pick up this slack. The past six months has seen an explosion of global companies making carbon neutral commitments and auto makers committing to produce electric-only vehicles.
  2. Re-evaluating: Companies that have aggressively proposed nature-based solutions to the climate crisis have been criticized for converting land use to conservation at a cost to indigenous and traditional people who can no longer use the land as they have for generations – thus resulting in “nature-based dispossessions”. Emerging application of the IUCN’s new Global Standard for NBS[1] shows promise in guiding NBS to the positive carbon reduction and overall net-positive socio-environmental value mechanisms they were intended to be.
  3. Replacing: We are witnessing a rapid shift to replace fossil fuel for power generation through a massive investment in renewables. IES estimates that, “by 2026, global renewable electricity capacity is forecast to rise more than 60% from 2020 levels to over 4 800 GW – equivalent to the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. Renewables are set to account for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half.”[2]
  4. Removing: In Race for Tomorrow[3], Simon Mundy highlights promising actions taken by scientists, entrepreneurs, and even traditional oil-field workers to remove carbon from the atmosphere. These include:
    • Carbon extraction: A German start-up that developed a scalable machine to remove CO2 from the air with a fan and membrane is working in concert with a start-up in Iceland that has developed a technology to pump CO2 dissolved in water into basaltic bedrock where it then naturally converts to limestone.
    • Fracking for a cleaner environment: A Texas company is using existing fracking technology to tap energy from solar power to pump water into pressurized reservoirs for storage until it can be released through turbines to generate power at peak demand periods.
  1. Relieving: While we should focus first on reducing carbon intensity and then on removing carbon from the atmosphere, making the energy transition a “just transition” will require massive investment to help developing country societies, which have been disproportionately impacted by increased climate risks, adapt to damages already inflicted. The World Resources Institute highlights a promising level of global resource commitment to the Adaptation Fund (with pledges almost tripling the 2022 target), and especially the Least Developed Countries Fund (receiving a record $413 million commitments.) WRI notes that, “although more money is needed to help developing countries increase their resilience to the effects of climate change, this progress was warmly welcomed by developing countries in Glasgow.”[4]

Last Friday (January 14, 2022), the Wall Street Journal said this about Canada’s tar sands, the fourth largest oil reserve in the world: “One of Dirtiest Oil Patches Is Pumping More than Ever.”[5] But we are learning now that betting on dirty oil is a losing game. The tide has turned – even if many businesses and consumers have not yet fully realized this. A growing number of multinational corporations have proven that bold transformation toward a decarbonized future can also deliver robust profits. Many others will follow. The race is on – and that makes us hopeful.



[1] See https://www.iucn.org/news/ecosystem-management/202111/nature-based-solutions-must-be-credible-measurable-and-inclusive-iucn

[2]  See https://www.iea.org/news/renewable-electricity-growth-is-accelerating-faster-than-ever-worldwide-supporting-the-emergence-of-the-new-global-energy-economy

[3] As reported in a McKinsey interview. See: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-on-books/author-talks-the-human-side-of-climate-change?cid=other-eml-dre-mip-mck&hlkid=bdeb6a98a3d9412e98fd81fdd3ba4e19&hctky=11801071&hdpid=66d855c7-7f86-4b4a-8f23-9fc8ec687252

[4] See  https://www.wri.org/insights/cop26-key-outcomes-un-climate-talks-glasgow

[5] See https://www.wsj.com/articles/oil-sands-canada-dirty-carbon-environment-11642085980


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