New deal to arrest climate change

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New deal to arrest climate change

Sunday, 03 March 2019 | Anjana Hazarika

New deal to arrest climate change

Though Green New Deal is offering a brand new plan to reject the orthodox economic perspectives to climate change, it is making many of the oil majors nervous about their future. But some policy experts in the US feel it may introduce path-breaking changes

The high consumption of fossil fuels is wreaking havoc on our planet. Exploitation of these resources for an increasingly globalised world and its humanity are literally shelving all efforts to save the nature. Around the same time, the largest economy, the US, is displaying both hope and despair to rest of us. Ironically, America is also the second biggest polluter of the planet. On a positive note, some segments of its corporate world are showing signs of adaptation. Billionaire Warren Buffet is planning to invest $30 billion on clean energy and Elon Musk of Tesla is promising the Americans to bring a new big league of electric cars to the country’s roads. At the same time, some of the big financiers are trying to pursue a record number of business houses to “go green” in the years to come. It is a sign of relief. It starts with America. Then this can be emulated elsewhere, like in China where a market economy survives with an iron-fist 21st century modern socialist ethos. However, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mega anti-corruption cleanup moves and harsh measures on erring corporate show Beijing’s seriousness on reforms. It is time for the Asian giant to curb emissions, as it has surpassed the US a decade ago. The country produces more than a quarter of the planet’s annual greenhouse gas emissions’ as reported by the Carbon Brief. China and the US must set an example on emission-free planet to the rest of the world.

Amid hope raised by some quarters in the US, what jarring truth is resurfacing is that the demand for oil is increasing like never before. And, sadly, the US oil biggies such as the ExxonMobil is planning to invest 25 per cent more in oil and gas sectors by 2025. The company sources highlight that by 2030, the demand for oil and gas in the international market would hit as big as 13 per cent. In fact, not only the ExxonMobil, but other global oil giants like Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total are planning to expand their market despite global outcries raised by both civil society organisations and NGOs around the world. Although the influence of these major enterprises is waning, they account for 10 per cent of the international oil and gas output. Additionally, all of them have a command over more than 16 per cent of the upstream investment. They also control and set the tone for numerous smaller industrial groups which privately invested in the energy sectors.

Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the global oil and gas production has to reduce by about 20 per cent by 2030 and nearly 55 per cent by 2050 with a view to prevent the planet’s temperature increasing by more than 1.5 degrees centigrade. Looking at their massive wealth and employment generation, the world leaders such as the US needs to find a middle path so as to save both man and nature. All these oil majors are not evils. Only it is a policy measure that might change the course of action.

It is a fact that commercial activity in fossil fuels is absolutely at odds with every effort made to reduce carbon emissions across the world. But more than 20 per cent of the GDP in 24 countries come from oil wealth. Experts say that coal, oil and natural gas burning are highly responsible for more than two thirds of the planet’s emissions of greenhouse gases. And it is alarmingly rising. It is to be noted here that the current commitments to reduce such global emissions may mean forgoing up to an estimated $100 trillion revenues by 2050. What could be the possible impact on various governments, private sectors, stakeholders and individuals who solely and partly rely on fossil fuel revenues for survival? This in turn would disrupt our global affairs leading to undermining of national budgets, corporate balance sheets and exposing ordinary citizens to myriad risks.

At a time, when there has been a widely visible trend of global populists who are risking the international community by turning towards their home fronts, such an upheaval in the world economy would not be advisable. Simply speaking, this could be devastating. Moreover, the so-called liberal international order is facing a risk, as the current US establishment is divesting itself from major global responsibilities.

A recent proposal by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (known popularly as AOC), a Congresswoman of the Democratic Party, is gearing up to bring drastic change in the health of the environment. The proposal, initially named “Green New Deal”, is offering a brand new plan to reject the orthodox economic perspectives to climate change. Sadly, the Green New Deal is still nebulous in details, but very soon the party is going to come up with a clear road to climate change. Though it is making many of the oil majors really nervous about their future, some policy experts in the US feel that it may introduce path-breaking changes like the historic New Deal of then US President Franklin Roosevelt to rescue America from depression. Hope the new policy would make enough to qualify towards common sense and common ground in an America largely overshadowed by a boisterous Trump Administration.

Needless to say that the Green New Deal is a revolutionary awakening of sort, but it may change the course of the global economy. The spoils unearthed from deep interiors of the planet, accompanied by alarming speed, clearly signal that it would thwart the lifeline of humanity. These outlets, particularly the coal mines and natural gas reserves, are seriously affecting all living beings. Unless otherwise these global giants divert the massive resources and manpower owned by them, indeed, the very “sustainability train” would leave in the lurch.

(The writer teaches Sociology at OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana)