Climate Change is Existential – Act Now
Earlier this year, ICTP restructured its organization – with Chair Juergen Steinmetz driving membership and visibility, while President Geoffrey Lipman will focus on Green Growth, in an age of increasing Climate Realities. This is Lipman’s first scene-setting blog for World Tourism Day 2016
Climate Change is Existential – Act Now SUN Blog 1 September 2016
I decided to start a blog despite knowing it’s a discipline I hate. So let me say from the outset it will be spasmodic and only when there’s something important to say. And today there is. It’s about the word existential: repeat existential. Which means if we don’t start the fix for global warming now our grandkids will freeze or fry.
I have decided to spend the rest of my working days trying to focus on that fix – and specifically how the Travel & Tourism sector can fully play its part. I am hopeful that ICTP and its Members will be leading the charge.
Fortunately, there is a chance the battle can be won. We are on the verge of a historic ratification of the Paris Climate Accord in no small measure due to the extraordinary leadership of Presidents’ Xi and Obama, both of whom understand the incredibly short time we really have, to shift away from our global carbon addiction. It is increasingly likely that ratification levels will be reached this year and that ICAO will slowly begin to manage aviation emissions next month.
This is just the start of a 3-decade carbon detox that will require a new dedication from every stakeholder, a new ability to think outside the box and new ways of doing business – investing in technology innovation and fiscal measures to spur the change.
Most importantly there is a delivery challenge – while the Global Accords and carbon reduction targets are established by sovereign states, the real action will have to be at the local community level – urban and rural – and the masses of sme’s that dominate the value chain.
The pace of change will be far greater than we can imagine now – trillions of changes in millions of places. And the stakes will be high – 12 trillion dollars of opportunity according to Bloomberg, to hit the 2-degree C stabilization mark. Much more for the 1.5 degrees C that most experts say is the real target.
When I discussed this with Maurice Strong, one of the founding fathers of modern day sustainability thinking and a friend and mentor for 20 years, shortly before he passed away last year, we talked about finding ways to take the best of climate response thinking to the grass roots of the Travel and Tourism sector. And to do so in a way that could be low cost, high impact and scalable in line with the Paris Accord. He urged me to keep up the good fight on climate change as the existential challenge of sustainable development.
SUN is the result – the Strong Universal Network – a growing community of communities, who recognize the existential nature of Climate Change and act glocally to deal with it. SUN is built on a vision of Impact-Travel – where the positive and negative elements of tourism are recognized, managed and measured coherently. It is based on Green Growth for low carbon, resource efficiency and biodiversity conservation, while strengthening jobs, inclusion and trade and “reconnecting” nature, urbanization and people. Impact-Travel embraces hyper-connectivity, technology acceleration, the internet of things and web/human interface – what the World Economic Forum calls a 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).
With committed colleagues from around the world, we’ve begun to work on this kind of existential climate change focused, transformation system. A cloud connected network of solar powered hubs, with a smart technology platform to identify best of breed innovation, learning systems, performance enhancing tools/services, for measured and managed Impact Travel. Most importantly targeting the base of the pyramid – the community – to make sure that the change respects local culture and is inclusionary from the outset.
In future blogs I’ll try to lay out how we plan to advance this during the 2017 International Year of Tourism, how we want to engage within and outside the sector and how we will outreach first to UN regions in 2018 and then globally by 2020, with Expo Dubai as a grand visible booster, to link deeply into the Paris Accord response system.
This is a start – up activity, funded to date by a small number of committed partners. Our next step is to secure impact investment to take it to breakeven level. If you are interested to be a part of this existential climate focused SUN movement, please contact me