The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us
Climate change is an increasingly emotional subject, not least if you are living at the sharp end of it. In the past few years alone we’ve seen uncontrollable wildfires in Australia, severe hurricanes in the US, and flooding all over the world. Thousands have died, seen their homes destroyed, or been displaced. The issue has brought some memorable quotes from people who in some cases have dedicated their life or work to try to combat it. While it is the politicians that hold the real power in being able to enact measures that can tackle global warming, others can be just as influential.
Take Sir David Attenborough, for example. The 94-year-old naturalist and broadcaster had dedicated a seven-decade working career to highlighting ‘Life on Earth’ (as his seminal work suggests) and the fragility of it. His moving documentary, ‘A Life on our Planet’, outlines how humans have caused immense destruction to the planet. It produced a memorable warning shot to mankind:
“Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that… The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.”
With nine of the ten hottest years on record occurring in the last decade, the effects of climate change are now impossible for anyone to ignore. As former US President Barack Obama said:
“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
This is both a challenge and an opportunity, as President Joe Biden said when taking the US back into the Paris Agreement in January 2021. His policies if enacted by Congress would invest USD 2.2 trillion in combatting global warming, saying:
“Climate change is the existential threat to humanity. Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.”
Virtually everyone agrees that the action needed to stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere is decarbonization. This requires international cooperation and treaties to universally – rather than unilaterally – agree to decarbonizing the industries we take for granted, such as fossil fuel. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s clarion call reflected the urgent need to move beyond words alone:
“We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonization.”
At Robeco, we believe we are also part of the solution by investing in companies that make a difference. And as our CEO Karin van Baardwijk makes clear, this is our top priority:
"We have to recognize that the effects of climate change are also top-of-mind for us all, not just as investors but as citizens too. We know that the low-carbon transition is disruptive with impact on companies that can’t keep up. However, at the same time, it’s providing opportunities for those that can."
Climate investing is more than just the next big thing
The chart that tells it all
Global total net CO₂ emissions
Source: IPCC, October 2018, Special Report no. 15