In 2014, many powerful leaders came together in New York to speak about the united climate action to tackle the growing global issues. Many voiced the opinion that it costs more to ignore the problem of climate change than to invest in solving the issues.
It was also in the year of 2014 that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an assessment on climate change science. The report stated that the longer we wait to reduce our emissions, the more expensive it will become. Outlining a key point that to tackle climate change head on and investing in the infrastructure early will help us gain an advantage on the problems which we are now experiencing. Additionally, the report states that to carry on with business as usual will only accelerate climate change and create damage costs beyond what we can accurately assess. This is also key as many today still ignore or deny climate change and their responsibility to it, which will be covered in more depth later.
Although, investment into climate change is essential, some have warned that investing in climate change issues is a complex matter with long-term investment not being so clear cut.
It is now firmly established that climate change is a much needed and important investment for governments and NGOs to focus on in order to help minimise the damage costs of climate change. However, others have highlighted the importance of investing in adaptation measures as well.
A report released in 2019 by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) stated that adaptation measures such as early warning systems would help avoid suffering, economic loss and be economically beneficial. Some of the most crucial climate issues such as drought, rising sea levels and unpredictable weather can all be avoided by preparing with adaptable measures that the report touches on. These adaptive measures can help prevent suffering but also help invest money into the preventing issues before they become too expensive to fix. For example, the report states that rising sea levels may create hundreds of millions of climate refugees moving from coastal cities, creating a total cost to coastal urban areas around $1 trillion each year by 2050.
Additionally, the IPCC is currently preparing the sixth assessment report on climate change which incorporates the idea of adaptation to climate change as well. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that when it comes to climate change prevention is one-hundred percent better than cure.
If business is to continue as usual then certain people will continue to profit from the destructive practices which have been normalised in today’s society. For example, in 2011 an incident occurred where Shell had been responsible for an oil spill near the coast of Nigeria. When asked for $5 billion in compensation, Shell refused to pay stating that there was no legal basis for such a fine to exist, thus avoiding the responsibility of the harms they had incidentally caused. It is well known that many companies try to avoid blame, as seen by the oil spills and other incidents globally. However, active climate change denial still has a strong voice and is one of the major barriers to creating concrete solutions against climate change.
The sophistication of climate denial by big business is one that has been compared to the misinformation campaigns led by the tobacco industry from the 1950s to the 1970s. For example, ExxonMobil in the United States being one of the biggest companies in the oil and gas industries, spent $16 million from 1998 to 2005 to produce uncertainty about climate change. This demonstrates the lengths big businesses will go to in order to keep profiteering from the harmful practices that continue to cause millions of people suffering each year. Not only are people losing their homes but many people’s health are at risk from toxic waste dumps as well as millions of acres of habitat and rainforest being lost for the sake of profit.
As we are at a crucial turning point in our planet’s health and our own, one of the most famous naturalists, David Attenborough, has recently stated that this is our last chance to stop wasting resources, time and money. Therefore, in order to rid ourselves of the destructive habits of today’s society, there is great need to actively inspire a healthier change that everyone needs to be apart of in order for it to work.