Wow, it felt so surreal that we finally made it to Madrid! Following the Swat Delegation’s posts and keeping abreast of the news coming out of the first week of negotiations had built up my anticipation. Still slightly jetlagged but brimming with an equal measure of excitement, I made my way to the World Climate Summit: The Investment COP, which was conveniently next to the airport. The Summit, dubbed as “the most important official COP25 side event,” has, over the past ten years, brought together leaders in the public and private sectors to seek and share “business and investment-driven solutions to climate change.” This event interested me because I genuinely believe that if we are to tackle climate change successfully, then we need everyone on board, especially businesses. Certain businesses pollute, while others are innovating for solutions to address climate change. Either way, there is no denying that we can’t get close to meeting the Paris Agreement without the private sector’s support.
I arrived at the Summit in time for the first break out session on “The Future of Energy – Decarbonizing the System,” The speaker offered a synthesis of the requirements for stabilizing the climate and why the next decade is critical, which are broadly categorized as “reduce demand, change how we power and fuel our lives, scale up a ‘carbon management’ industry, and tackle other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” On the last point, what stuck out to me was how if all the cows in the world were a country, then the Republic of Cows would be the world’s second-largest contributor of GHGs! Our diets are definitely something that must shift if we are serious about combating climate change, so I will also look forward to reading Isabel’s posts about agriculture. On a lighter note, one of the panelists joked in this session mentioned how he took his first flight on an electric plane this year and joked how the range matters more on an electric plane than an electric vehicle. I found this to be pretty funny and appreciated the humor because climate change conferences can, at times, feel a bit “doom and gloom.” Another session I appreciated was an interactive workshop on “Physical Climate Risk and Response.” The speaker discussed topics such as “will countries like India get rich before it gets too hot?” Such questions really need to be at the forefront of policy discussions considering extreme heat conditions will be at a level when humans cannot survive, so how would India cope when ¾ of its workforce works outside, and only 7% of its population has air conditioning? Another interesting topic was about “how will long-term mortgages exist for risky geographies?” Typically insurances operate on one-year contracts, so with climate change making disasters more frequent and severe, then premiums might become too cost-prohibitive. Also, mortgages are usually for 30 years, but you need insurances to have mortgages. In such situations, this could even lead to a crisis in places like Florida, which depend heavily on property tax. Risk is a very fraught issue because it’s tough balancing the various needs of stakeholders involved. A point brought up in a later session that I thought also fed back neatly into the discussions around insurances was the concern of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Their worry is that the increasing talk about the risks climate change poses to their country will also drive up the cost of capital, leading to a drain on capital. That could then be a vicious cycle because it would leave less capital available for adaption. Jet lag is hitting me, so I’ll wrap up for now! Don’t worry, these are all areas I hope to further explore at COP25. I still have so much to learn/share!