A review of Bill Gate's new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
by HR China International directors John Adams & Bob Collins has been published by Long Finance
. You can read the article at:
How To Pay For Going Green
Another recently published book is The New Climate War
by Michael Mann, a well known US climate specialist and inventor of the ‘Hockey Stick’ climate warming graph.
The books take contrasting positions. Here John Adams, compares and contrast these two important additions to the climate debate.
Bill Gates book (How to Avoid a Climate Disaster) is a folksy US walk through the various techie solutions to climate change. These include seeding the upper atmosphere with various substances to reduce the effects of sunlight – an untried technology with perhaps unpredictable consequences. Gates is also a proponent of nuclear power as being the only possible solution to CO2 reduction. He has been experimenting for some considerable time with computer simulations and believes that the application of AI can reduce human error (the cause of the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island) and reduce nuclear waste. Burying reactors underground could also reduce the risks of terrorist attack. He has teamed up with the US government to build a prototype – owning a nuclear reactor (or going to Mars) now seem to be individual life-style options.
Gates’ nuclear proposals do not seem however to address the disaster at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, when a Tsunami flooded the emergency back-up generators, causing three reactors to melt down – a solution to managing the waste is still unforthcoming. The end result has been a loss of public confidence in nuclear power in Japan, with only nine reactors out of 60 now allowed to operate. It is however interesting to note that China (with 28% of global CO2 emissions) seems to agree with Gates – it proposes that nuclear power supply 95% of its electricity needs by 2100 – though on some projections China’s population will have fallen by 50% by then to 732mn. China is also prone to Tsunami and earthquakes….
Michael E, Mann’s offering (The New Climate War) is very different to that of Gates. He is somewhat dismissive of techie solutions, maintaining that application of existing solutions, if correctly applied, can cut CO2 to sustainable levels. This would include the gamut of solar, wind and hydro power. Unlike Gates, his book does not mention China. It is however an excellent guide to the underhand PR techniques applied by the fossil fuel industry to discredit him personally and academically. Mann points to the diversionary and divisive strategy adopted to neuter opposition – ‘personal initiative is pointless, but try Veganism and less showers instead’.
One suspects that the blind-spot for both Gates and Mann is the loss of US leadership in world climate issues under President Trump. The US has no national grid (hence the outages in Texas) while China is proposing to integrate into a world generation grid. But, as Gates sagely remarks, if China now exports its advanced and rapid building techniques for coal-fired power stations, this could indeed be a world disaster.
Both Gates and Mann seem to ignore the role of banks in financing fossil fuel, and the ability of investment funds to influence this through divestment. HSBC has, under pressure, just announced a new medium and long-term strategy to divest from fossil fuels (FT Friday 12th March 2021). This was brought about by 15 major fund managers proposing an AGM motion against HSBC (now withdrawn). It could still be a lively AGM in May. And shareholder activism seems to work.
Scottish Widows UK pension fund has recently drawn up a measured response to fossil fuel divestment – first, a letter to the board, followed by refusal to re-elect it at the AGM, and then a three year cooling off period before divestment – but only if fossil fuels are 10% of SW’s total AUM. The argument therefore that the divested fossil fuel assets will be snapped up by even less scrupulous investors seems fallacious – these investors still require liquidity and infrastructure loans, mainly from banks. Increased mandatory supervisory reporting and disclosure of ESG (环境，社会及管治) under the TCFD (Task Force on Financial Disclosure (财务披露 工作组) by banks from 2022 will prove another powerful lever.
The pressing current false dilemma is whether national policies will opt post-COVID for “business-as-usual” carbon-led growth; or will choose ‘expensive’ investment in green technology and infrastructure. The window of opportunity may be closing here, if rising inflation and higher interest rates do make such investment more costly.
The increase in the value of Bitcoin, which if continued will inevitably drive up the power consumption of Bitcoin "mining" operations, and hence CO2 emissions, demonstrates that the competition for investment funds has no natural bias towards environmentally favourable factors. As Tesla's large position in Bitcoin demonstrates, there are no intrinsic "green" barriers or considerations of collective self-harm which apply to money chasing the potential for higher returns.
HR China and HR Financial have recently linked up with the UK banking industry representative body, the Chartered Banker Institute (CBI) to promote the new CBI globally recognised examination in Green and Sustainable Finance. （英国特许银行家协会， 全球公认的绿色可持续金融证书）
This is a an opportunity to improve personal knowledge in a rapidly changing area of expertise and obtain a global benchmark qualification. It will also assist candidates and institutions to be prepared for the coming mandatory Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting requirements for financial institutions.
The Certificate costs £595 (GBP) per candidate, including all learning materials and the first sitting of the examination. It includes one year's membership of the Chartered Banker Institute.
There are no entry requirements for the Certificate in Green and Sustainable Finance, and no prior knowledge of the green and sustainable finance sector is assumed.
For more details (or to apply on-line through HR China International), go to:
Green and Sustainable Finance Certificate