The economics, politics and science of climate change are converging and catapulting this problem from a joke among critics to a prominent concern.
Driving the news: Shifts by politicians, among corporate leaders and within financial institutions are creating a foundation that could produce big movement for the first time since, well, forever.
Why it matters: If the world’s political and business leaders are going to seriously move to cut heat-trapping emissions, they first need to pay attention to it.
- They are starting to now, fueled by unrest from the world’s youth, cheaper renewable energy, more bouts of extreme weather, and other evidence of global warming.
The big picture: We’ve written about these shifts several times over the past couple years. It’s worth examining them together because the amount of new attention that’s occurred in a matter of weeks is staggering.
- Of note: Big caveats exist and the prospect of substantive action on the problem remains deeply uncertain, but the arc of change is forming.
In Washington, congressional Republicans and even President Trump are scrambling to acknowledge the problem after years of denying it — and in some cases mocking it outright.
- “The issue of climate and the environment is rising in priority for the American voter and you’re seeing the political dynamic shift where people are really demanding their elected officials to address this problem,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) told me last week.
Among corporate executives and financial leaders, climate is quickly becoming a concrete worry. In addition to being the sole official topic of the World Economic Forum last week in Davos for the first time, a range of pronouncements have come from BlackRock, the IMF and more in just the last several weeks.
But, but, but: This doesn’t guarantee a path to big global action. It lays the foundation, but a lot more would have to happen to make actual change possible.
- Goals from corporate and financial entities deserves frequent scrutiny.
- Trump continues to roll back climate policies and the Paris Agreement's goals are in serious doubt.
Another big caveat is that although climate change itself poses huge risks, aggressively acting on it does too — and those risks are realized far more quickly and thus may have swift political consequences hindering more action.
What I’m watching: What change — namely, big government policy — could happen from this newfound attention, including to what degree companies really begin to lobby Washington for big change.