How large is one's fair reduction of CO2e emissions ?
You shall SKIP this non-essential
page if your time is limited or if you dislike philosophical discussions.
You shall read it if, like me, you need to be reinsured of not having set your once-a-lifetime decarbonization duty half way.
There is TWO comforting rationales to substantiate our ambitious target of 1 000 000 tons C02e/year, also equal to 1/50 000th of global emissions.
1) The rationale of a priviledged subset
In different groups of 9, 25, 100 people,
lets assume the most priviledged subset must take immediate action
on behalf of the rest of the group or the whole group faces chaos,
how numerous shall these subset be? Most math geeks simply settle
for 3, 5 and 10, which consistently brings the square roots of 9,
25 and 100. Although the best answer obviously
depends on specific wealth distribution of each group, a number of people equal to the
square root of the people-count are probably sufficiently
priviledged to execute various solutions mitigating the entire
Let's apply this geek rationale to Climate Change. By year 2050-2100, the planet will host about 10 billions people. Square root of 10 billions produces 100 000 front-liners. According to the above theory, the 100 000 most priviledged people, win some loose some, are expected to quickly act to avoid chaos for themselves and for the rest of the group. By chance this number conveniently forms a demographic group already caracterized by financiers and economists under the odd name of UHNWIs. By year 2018, Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, whose private networth equals or exceeds 50 MUSD, amount to about 100 000 people.
In this rationale, the mid-priviledged part of mankind, a few billions persons, have a role too since the support of market masses is of course needed to vote/lobby/consume/shift in favour of climate friendly solutions designed by front-liners. There is a high probability that these consumers suffer to some extend from climate change, therefore hopes are high they start acting decisively in a couple of years.
Another few billions,
the less priviledged part of mankind, can't unfortunately bring
much help since they don't consume industrial goods or services and
don't contribute to greenhouse gas beyond low emissions related to
traditional fishing and agriculture, grazing of a few cattle
and wood-burning stoves.
to several studies they are the persons deemed to be the hardest
hit by anthropogenic
climate change (sea-level rise, extreme weather, threats of
desertification, and droughts ruining harvests)
. In the business-as-usual scenario,
also called RCP 8.5,
climate refugees could reach 2 billions
people by year 2075 !!
Here is a different study, mentionning 2 billions people displaced by year 2100, from rising seas only. https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2-bil...
Whatever the number, the date or the plagues for these defenseless families, how fair is that ?
How does our square root rationale converge with the yearly target of our venture for CO2e reduction? Drum roll please... The individual wealth of most of our expected 30 - 50 impact investors are probably below the UHNWI entry point of 50M USD and probably much below the mean networth of UHNWIs, averaging to a handsome 200 MUSD. We might be less endowed but we aren't less smart !! The 30-50 of us, are approximately priviledged in cumulated capital as much as, let's say 2 average UHNWIs (400 MUSD, forgive the daring guess) , therefore are well positionned to achieve the CO2e reduction of 2 failed UHNWI guys. Backup-plans and redundancy are essential to save the day! This situation reconcilates reasonably well with our target to trigger the tackling of 1 per 50 000th of the worldwide target. At least, this odd rationale shows that our goal is not set way too low... (notwithstanding our commited capital being very low relatively to the task, a different metric than the above check).
2) The rationale of correlation between our savings and aggregated CO2e in atmosphere
An different way to reconciliate maths, again to know if our effort
is fair/large enough, is to realize that
since 1960, the evolution of worldwide
Gross Domestic Product, correlates perfectly with energy
consumption and CO2e emissions !!
Therefore our wealth, which is the
saved part of the lifetime revenue of our business plus of our parents' business, shall be regarded, climatewise, as the
hard-earned & only fruit left from our aggregated consumption
of energy !!
This cause-to-effect situation could have
proved dooming when you realize that global middle-classes,
whose daily activities have contributed to most of the actual 400ppm
CO2e pile-up, and will unfortunately keep on contributing for the
next (and last) 30 years, have saved too little
disposable resources to clean-up their
share, technology-wise, capital-wise !! As you surely know, most quickly available
savings are indeed controlled by UHNWIs and by the wealthier first-tier
of 30 millions HNWIs. Here again, because the 30 - 50 of
us as a group most likely account for less than 1:50 000th of readily available capital worldwide,
we probably are on the safe/redundant side of "doing the right
thing" by triggering the yearly decarbonization of 1 million tons of CO2e (or 65 millions tons during the critical period 2035-2100),
unexpected byproducts of this carbon-economy which built
our revenues and our wealth.
Every action counts
Of course, there is no point to rely on UHNWI and first tier-HWNI guys only. Many will anyway show-up too late and/or act too little. Since desirable concentration lower than 455 ppm CO2e is a cumulative BUDGET, this is uniquely the sum of EARLY slashing efforts which is impactful for climate . Eleventh hour heroes may better stay home... Fortunately allies are reaching up. THOUSANDS of other smart groups are quickly devising climate-mitigation actions like we do. Millions of other people are starting exchanging information and guidance under various top-down or bottom-up initiatives. Hundreds of billions USD will probably become available in low-interest green bonds (including a few millions USD for our own cleantech activities if we need to call for it). In developed countries, we can also expect decisive actions from NGOs and consumer pressure groups in decarbonizing electricity, promoting national policies, regulations, cap & trade and tax incentives/disincentives. Every contribution counts. Despite uncertainties, giving it one's best shot early can probably save our children's home . Despair, procrastination, selfishness, excuses, lack of vision are now sure to loose it.