Allow me to shake your faith! – While the World mobilises for Paris to get it right the Australian Government employs Bjorn Lomborg.
Dr Johannes Bauer. 4Hills Comments 1 May, 2015
Allow me to shake your faith!
While the World mobilises for Paris to get it right the Australian Government employs Bjorn Lomborg
“Allow me to shake your faith….. there is a story here! “Allow me to shake your faith. Put your hand in mine and let me lead you through the maze. Do this, because it’s important that you understand. If you find reason to disagree, by all means take the other side. But please don’t ignore it, don’t look away. It isn’t an easy tale to tell. It’s full of numbers and explanations. Numbers used to make my eyes glaze over. Not anymore. Not since I began to follow the direction in which they point. Trust me, there is a story here”
~ Roy, A., 2002. The Algebra of Infinite Justice”, published by Flamingo-Harper Collins in 2002, p 59.
Thank you for signing up for the Ceres eCommunity. We promise not to crowd your inbox, and you can change your email preferences at any time I have just (1.May, 2015) joined the Ceres eCommunity (see its website and its organisational profile at: . I had not done that for some time but today I read some articles on economical questions around climate change from that organisation on their newsletter which are pertinent as a contrast to Bjorn Lomborg, also an economist, who was recently appointed head of a new government funded ‘think-tank’, ‘to help us down under tackle our climate issues’.
Or rather NOT, as the case may be. CERES seems a good reality check on what type of economics we want to look at and what we should think of Lomborg and the government.
As my personal contribution from 4hills to the climate change debate here in Australia, mostly for friends, family and former colleagues and students really, I just want to draw your attention to four items of importance.
1. The current mobilisation to a round of climate change negotiations (COP 21) -21 stands for years- in December 2015 in Paris which is considered by most as the last window of opportunity for meaningful action.
2. The publication of Jeremy Leggett’s latest book (available as PDF file attached to this email) as a unique document to describe a current monumental shift in our thinking and responses in matters climate change.
3. Some current developments in investment portfolios, essential for the development of coal, oil, renewable energy and often, our superannuations.
4. The appointment of one Bjorn Lomberg by the Australian government as head of a research centre at a renowned university.
I will confine myself to two key points of considerable importance and, for us down under, to worry about.
1. There are major changes happening around the world and it seems more and more likely that an ‘old’ and rather ineffectual set of arguments for action around climate change and the role of markets also in that, has been superseded by new ones which have already changed everything. While it is unclear how this will translate into meaningful action it is now the BIG financial markets- not the ‘little’ ones we tried to develop around carbon, which will increasingly drive action. This big move comes as a response to an increasing realisation by the world’s major investors that the sheer talk and growing momentum for global action on climate change, including the passing of a rapidly growing body of national and international legislation, is starting to become a major risk factor for the huge parts of their investment portfolios in fossil fuel. Major ones have already started to divest themselves from that risky path, the world major banks follow.
2. Australia, in a quite unprecedented attempt by the Abbott government to further deceive the public has appointed one Bjorn Lomborg to ‘defend’ its position. This is quite extraordinary as Lomborg has been an increasingly discredited economist, former of the University of Copenhagen, who, after trying for several decades to ‘expose’ the flawed thinking and action of environmental concerns has, after having lost most academic credibility, left the university sector and worked on a fossil fuel industry funded ‘think-tank’. Most in Europe and in the meantime the US would NOT touch him with a pole stick any longer and Australia with its government in ‘fossil energy lobby funded denial’ is just about the last place he can go. One does not know what one should call that. Stupid, deceitful, utterly irresponsible come to mind. Unlinking Australia from the growing action elsewhere. It leaves one speechless.
This momentum is now growing by the day and seems unstoppable. For example: In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 62 large institutional investors representing nearly $2 trillion in assets called on the SEC to push for better disclosure by oil and gas companies of critical climate change-related business risks that will “profoundly affect the economics of the industry.” The letter describes shortcomings in annual financial filings by ExxonMobil, Chevron and Canadian Natural Resources and asks the SEC to “closely scrutinize” reporting on carbon asset risks by oil and gas companies. Most of the investors signing onto the letter are also participating in the Carbon Asset Risk Initiative, through which 75 investors managing more than $4 trillion in assets have called on 45 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to assess and disclose how their business plans fare in a world turned upside down by unchecked climate change.
And this is just the tip of an iceberg of change. There are now bodies like the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) while The Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (GIC), which includes INCR, released Climate Change Investment Solutions: A Guide for Asset Owners. This Guide outlines a range of strategies and approaches investors can use to address climate change, focusing on investment solutions and also referencing engagement and portfolio decarbonization -as investors around the world work to scale up their efforts to reduce carbon risks and invest in clean energy. This is not some ideologically driven response of some nutcases but one which has become necessary as the growing market risks of NOT DOING ANYTHING become apparent and as it has become clear that there is a growing and unstoppable momentum for political and social action. To keep Australia apart from this global shift is, as I have described previously, an action by the government which is deeply worrying in its shortsightedness and lack of responsibility.
A final word!
Do yourself a favour and read the attached Jeremy Legget’s: ‘How we won the Carbon Wars’ (April, 2015). It is a tiny file and you can read it in two hours. He will
“ lead you through the maze…..because it’s important that you understand. If you find reason to disagree, by all means take the other side. But please don’t ignore it, don’t look away”.
… as Arundhati Roy says. He will show you by relating personal experiences over 25 years of the world’s leading climate change advocate, how CEO’s of major companies, including from the mining sector, have changed and how governments and people have taken on the challenge. It is quite mindboggling really!
And as for those who want to read about Bjorn Lomborg I can refer e.g. to the recent article available at: Economy Federal Budget. Why is the Australian Government funding Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre?
I can also summarize what I myself, an academic of 35 years experience in that sector, thinks of Bjorn Lomborg.
PS. My own say on Bjorn Lomborg
As for myself I have followed Lomborg’s career in some detail for 13 years for own research purposes. I have also read and analysed his book: The Sceptical Environmentalist. While I did agree with some of his sentiments and data presented they did show many things going badly wrong in our government and NGO responses to environmental management- I could not help but notice a growing number of errors, abused datasets, deliberately misleading interpretations, a great amount of ignorance and a hidden subjective agenda which progressively disqualified him academically. I put him more and more into the camp of a number of irresponsible industry bodies which have chosen to deliberately mislead the public for economic gain. It was almost predictable that this ‘lobby’, would find him very useful, and support him in the ‘Copenhagen Consensus Centre’ to help them spread misinformation and uncertainty in matters climate change. I also noticed however that this centre is now not funded by Denmark any longer, which stopped being proud of him, but by some murky US connections so it seems. As to his appointment at an Australian university I fully agree with former colleagues that this is yet another step of the decline and politization of academia in Australia. It is a disgrace. An abuse of the university sector and an abuse of the public. And sadly so, it comes directly from the top and seems supported by the top administration of a university which in the chase for money does itself and others a great disfavour.
Jbauer, 4hills, 1.May 2015
For more on this topic download the pdf:
The Winning of the Carbon War by Jeremy Leggett