Their point is as simple as it is compelling. When Covid-19 becomes just a memory something far worse will be setting in and you won't be able to self-isolate from it.
The message comes from the current governor of the Bank of England, the governor of the Bank of France, a member of the executive board of the Bank of the Netherlands and a former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, now UN special envoy for climate action, Mark Carney.
In the immediate response to the pandemic, governments have taken measures of unprecedented scale to keep economic and financial systems afloat. The IMF estimates that approximately $9tn of fiscal support has been provided across the world. This is necessary to limit acute and permanent damage. But as we consider the next stage of recovery, we must look beyond the immediate crisis and think more strategically about how we do it.
Collectively, countries around the globe are still far from meeting climate crisis goals, most notably the Paris agreement to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2C, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C. Over the last year, we have seen record temperatures across Europe, extreme rainfall in the US and wildfires in the Arctic. The effects of the climate crisis are irreversible, so the severity and frequency of these extreme weather events will only increase – by how much depends on our success in transitioning to a net-zero emission world. Recognising this risk, the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) – a coalition of 66 central banks, and supervisors – has been working to “green” the financial system to reduce the costly financial risks that these developments create.
...Recognising the continued importance of climate risks to the financial sector, the NGFS has continued its work while those on the frontline fight the pandemic. As central banks and supervisors, we must use our financial stability mandates and expertise to ensure climate risks are effectively managed in the financial system.
...In the aftermath of the financial crisis the international community rallied together to reform the financial system. These reforms have enabled the financial system to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Once again we have reached a fork in the road. We have a choice: rebuild the old economy, locking in temperature increases of 4C with extreme climate disruption; or build back better, preserving our planet for generations to come.Our leaders have to choose. Do we continue to lavish countless billions on the fossil fuel sector and the foreign companies that dominate it or do we say, "enough," and put those billions to work for the future of Canada? From what we've seen so far, Ottawa is backing the fossil fuelers and doing it in the name of saving jobs. That's a smokescreen. Despite what they claim, Ottawa is far more likely to invest in rebuilding the old economy and, when they do, the contagion that follows won't stop at your front door.
These guys are bankers and economists - pretty hard-nosed types. They're not tree huggers or professional protesters. But they're not in charge and it is the political caste that fails us. We're living in an age of rule by technocrats whose instincts are to pull back from leadership, who decry bold action. No matter how dire the looming threat they cannot get beyond horse trading, compromise and, in the result, they may well foreclose our future. As the risks grow, their willingness to accept risk falters.
It's human nature to be drawn to the shiny thing. The pandemic and the BLM unrest have claimed most of the oxygen in the room. To the extent we ever did see climate breakdown as a looming threat and an urgent priority in recent months it has faded from our consciousness. It hasn't gone anywhere. It has actually worsened a lot. A few weeks ago there was a study that found the Great Extermination has sped up far beyond any predictions. The scientists were taken by surprise, just not in any good sense. Then there was a report that atmospheric greenhouse gas levels have greatly increased even as the air in our cities has improved from the reduction in transportation emissions. The cuts caused by Covid-19 it turns out are not "statistically significant."
And while we've focused on this novel coronavirus and the execution of blacks at the hands of police, we've lost sight of the urgency of climate change, that we're fast running out of time to avert climate breakdown.