The Green Transition: South Korea and Japan follow UK Pledge to Work Towards Carbon Neutrality by 2050

The South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, has formally pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2050. This commitment to achieving net-zero emissions within the next 30 years is not an unprecedented step, but is in line with recent global efforts to tackle climate change.  

Major world economies have now vowed to end their dependence on coal and replace it with other forms of renewable resources as part of their Green New Deal, which involves a shift towards renewable energy and energy storage systems, as well as low-carbon energy systems. In 2019, the European Union set itself a similar target, with EU leaders agreeing to make their then 28 member states carbon neutral by 2050. Japan quickly followed suit with Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga making an ambitious pledge to accelerate the country’s global warming targets. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has promised to become carbon neutral by 2060, and vowed to begin cutting its emissions within the next ten years. It must not be underestimated how bold and ambitious these targets actually are. 

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Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, a new climatic momentum is emerging

Introduction

In December 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a new climate treaty, aiming to limit rising temperatures at +2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This “monumental triumph for the people and our planet,” as exclaimed by UN Secretary-General at the time Ban Ki-Moon, states that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must come down to ‘net-zero’ levels between 2050 and 2100. As a decentralized and bottom-up system relying on signatories’ nationally determined contributions, the success of the Paris Agreement can only be achieved if countries ratchet up their ambitions. 

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Inspiring environmental policy change in Kenya : An interview with the FlipFlopi Project

The FlipFlopi Project began in 2016 when Kenyan tour operators Ben Morrison and Dipesh Pabari, along with boat craftsman Ali Skanda, built a Dhow using 9 tonnes of plastic waste collected from local beaches. The purpose of this invention was to raise awareness about the detriments of single use plastic (SUP) waste on the marine ecosystem and the wellbeing of civilians in coastal Kenya. In 2019, the project launched a 14 day expedition, with the support of UNEP’s Clean Sea’s Initiative, in which the Dhow sailed across the East African coast and hosted various events in local communities in Kenya and Tanzania to raise awareness of SUP’s. As a result, the project became a platform for environmental activism and triggered Africa’s “blue planet moment”  , catalyzing policy discourse on the circular economy movement across Africa. Currently, the project runs a few innovation hubs and circular economy start-ups, and engages with international policy platforms (most notably UNEP) to advocate for progressive environmental policy in East Africa. 

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Climate Change and its Impact on Businesses

Climate change has come to the forefront of global politics in recent years, with large scale protests led by international organisations such as Extinction Rebellion gaining considerable momentum. In particular, the protests at the end of September 2019 were the largest display of resistance against climate change in recent history, and were timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit. This protest saw over 6 million people take to the streets in 180 countries to demand faster and stricter action on climate change. What made this movement unique was that it displayed not only the realities of climate change but it also demonstrated the widespread concern that consumers around the world feel for it. It is important to consider the impacts that this issue and the heightened awareness that surrounds it has on businesses around the world. 

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The paradox of abundance: the future of work in the face of automation and degrowth

In the coming years, the climate crisis will present a myriad of problems and challenges for our societies to overcome. As humanity is forced to abandon perpetual economic growth, we will have to find new policies to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources among all people.

In recent years, the threat that automation poses to workers has risen to prominence within Western political discourse. This is nothing new. From the Luddites rebelling against the mechanisation of the textile industry to fears that the US’s ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture would leave farm labourers destitute, technological change in our economic processes has always been met with fears of job losses. This presents a specific challenge to efforts to roll-out measures such as a ‘Green New Deal’, aimed at limiting further growth in order to mitigate the climate emergency.

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Oil markets in intensive care: an incentive to decarbonate? Perspective from Saudi Arabia

On 12 April 2020, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with Russia and other non-member oil exporting countries, agreed to a record oil production cut of 9.7 million barrels a day (mb/d) in an attempt to ease a global supply glut and boost crude oil prices. This decision was made against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a steep reduction in the demand for crude oil and led to a drop in oil prices. These curbs will stay in place for May and June, after which they will reduce to 7.7m b/d for the rest of the year, and then 5.8m b/d from January 2021 to April 2022 if compliance with the quotas is enforced. Many experts remain legitimately concerned with the global demand decline as the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts an overall demand drop of 9m b/d in 2020 (29m b/d reduction for April alone) compared to 2019, erasing almost a decade of growth. However, this short-term surplus of oil shouldn’t overshadow the structural issues of oil markets and the concerns regarding future oil supplies. 

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Climate Migration: an unnamed disaster

On 14 March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated 90 percent of the city of Beira in Mozambique. The major humanitarian crisis that ensued has affected anywhere between 1.85 and 3 million people and displaced approximately 146,000 people within Mozambique’s territory, as citizens sought to escape the floods and fled homes that were reduced to debris. As the consequences of climate change accelerate, the pressing issue of climate migration calls for urgent intervention. 

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Ambitious Realism at the Paris Climate Talks

On the morning of 12th December, President of COP21 and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius delivered a passionate speech preceding the release of the final draft of the Paris Agreement. He spoke of the need to recognise how “collective efforts are more than the sum of our individual actions”, that if nations failed to agree, “our children would neither understand nor forgive us”, and that the negotiations had produced an “ambitious and balanced” agreement that recognised the notion of climate justice. Continue reading “Ambitious Realism at the Paris Climate Talks”