In recent weeks, Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria have generated heartbreaking images of widespread destruction, bringing into sharp focus the devastating power of nature and man’s tenuous place in the world. While the global call to combat climate change gains momentum, the visual record of these storms’ impacts on communities fosters a visceral and profound sense of urgency.
Most years, there are one or two people who are perplexed that a programme on climate adaptation includes sessions on behavioural change - exploring our own responses to change, how change can be effected at a local community level, and at the state level, as well as global changes.
There have been a slew of announcements this year which all point to one thing: business has figured out that there’s a lot of money to be made in the transition to a Green Economy. Be it record low costs for solar and wind energy, huge commitments to clean energy in both China and India, announcements from Volvo and BMW that herald the beginning of the end for petrol and diesel cars, or climate commitments from investor after investor, the message is clear. The momentum being generated as the global economy creaks into gear with the aim of decarbonisation means that the picture with regards emissions is brighter than it has been for years. And, while this shift has been encouraged by important policy commitments on reducing emissions, it is being driven by the fact that the economics make sense and there is money to be made from the transition – making the change we are currently seeing much faster and more sustainable than it would otherwise be.
As Houston and Louisiana start the long recovery process following Hurricane Harvey, and the Caribbean and Florida brace for Hurricane Irma, I’m reminded that in order to even start thinking about adaptation we need to get the fundamentals right.