Why the Carbon Bubble Will Burst

Jonathon Porritt, Director of Forum for the Future, warns that the global economy is threatened by a Carbon Bubble, because we should have been gradually decarbonizing over a quarter century. Instead every year we inflate the Carbon Bubble even more -- by $624 billion of new investments in 2012. Meanwhile, in what seems like another world, well meaning environmentalists fight among themselves about whether we must achieve social justice in order to attain a physically sustainable planet or whether we must first achieve a sustainable planet to make social justice possible.

... some argued that there is no hope of achieving social justice without first securing the environment, while others maintained that there’s no way of protecting natural resources without first eliminating social injustice.

... analysis of how global investors are responding to accelerating climate change. It’s not a pretty picture. Every year, financial regulators allow the big oil, gas and coal companies to declare some of their existing reserves as new assets on their balance sheets. The share price of the companies is heavily influenced by the hypothetical value of those assets, ...

…the growing threat of the carbon bubble at the heart of the global economy.

… every year we pump up that carbon bubble, to the tune of a staggering $624 billion of new investments in 2012.

Confronted with the increasingly traumatic consequences of a rapidly warming world (already a harsh physical reality for many), politicians will be forced into panic policy responses. They will seek to do in a very short time what we should have been doing over the last 25 years, including putting a higher price on every tonne of CO2. And when they do, all those oil, gas and coal assets will first become unviable and then completely stranded, destroying trillions of dollars of economic value in the process.

It’s already too late to avoid that particular Hobson’s choice: Either we burn the planet by crashing through the 2°C barrier and on to 4°C or even higher, or the bubble bursts, with very severe economic consequences. But we don’t have to go on making it worse – …

if we don’t move very rapidly indeed through programs of radical decarbonization in every sector of the economy, …, the lives of billions of people will become too horrendous to contemplate.

… debates about whether social justice or biophysical sustainability comes first are little more than a self-indulgent irrelevance.


Jonathon Porritt, Founder-Director of Forum for the Future

Views: 51

Replies to This Discussion

Ruth, sorting out which views are yours and which are Porritt's looks like a serious chore. Can you help?

The two environmental factions are an advantage; though they lessen the power one leader would have, they involve more people than one faction would and thus increase the movement's power.




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