I’ve been struggling for a while now. My struggle is that I love flying around the world, seeing new places, meeting new people, finding new things … but I hate polluting the planet. This was brought to a head this week in a back-to-back meeting on sustainable finance that made it abundantly clear we’re screwing this planet for profit from fossil fuels. I won’t got into the details here, that’ll come later, but it left me with a burning red light of conscience.
Sure, I offset carbon emissions and explicitly choose to do so, but my travelling is not helping this planet. After the fossil fuel industries of coal, gas and oil, and farming, transportation emits the greatest carbon emissions of any industry. It’s around 13% of the total greenhouse gases destroying earth, but how can we shut this down?
I recently travelled through Brussels and Vienna. Two provincial airports that I remember as being small and neat. Today, they are massive shopping malls, with terminals and gates all over the place, and walking distances of miles. Would the Belgium or Austrian governments turn around tomorrow and say that they are limiting their airport usage, closing entry to foreigners and nationalising their airlines to restrict their flights?
I don’t think so.
And there’s the rub. For all my wrangling over flying, every country in the world is promoting travel, promoting tourism, promoting their attraction as a destination. How would we ever curtail climate change and environmental destruction through greenhouse emissions of airlines, when every country wants to encourage more travel and more visitors?
As I struggled with this question, another little thought entered my head: climate change is not an issue for anyone, but for everyone. How can we get governments, banks, corporations, citizens and organisations behind making a change that matters? Can we get governments, banks, corporations, citizens and organisations behind making a change that matters?
I worry about this, as I worry what we are leaving to our next generation. Can we leave them a planet that’s thriving or dying? Can we get everyone behind change, or is it just going to be a radical few?
These points hit home during the dialogue this week when one of the presenters made the point that we have to move from an emotional engagement to a rational engagement. Emotionally we all get that screwing the earth for fossil fuels does not make sense. Rationally, cutting the ties to Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and other fossil fuel companies so that they go under is much harder. Can we do that? Will we do that? Do we have to do that?
I’m met every day by headlines and events that tell me planet earth is dying. I was shocked this week to learn that the first writing about such issue dates back to 1884. That’s 135 years of being climate aware where we’ve climate ignored.
We need to do something. I would say that today I commit to travel no more, but that’s no good. What I’d rather do is to use this blog, this system, this interest, to create a global change for good. So, I’ve started petition at change.org to ask banks to stop funding, financing and banking fossil fuel firms.
Will you sign the petition? Will you join this change?
71% of all greenhouse gases are created by just 100 firms. If we can shut them down, we can do more to halt climate change overnight than any individual using cardboard straws and paper bags.
By: Chris M. Skinner