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Three Strikes and You’re Out

March 30, 2022 - 05:00
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The situation in Ukraine has been another kick in the head in reference to our overall sense of progress toward a more civilized world. When we add the stress and challenges we have faced addressing a pandemic that has killed over 6 million persons worldwide of which about 1 million were in this country, these are tough pitches coming across our plate.

Yet lost in the cascade of the buildup and brutality of the war in Ukraine plus warnings that we should not completely relax about Covid, an alarming scientific report about the changing climate on our planet has been seemingly subsumed.

Without these other stressors dominating our news feed, it is likely that this report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would be rattling a lot of cages around the world. This latest report by what is called Working Group II is part of the Sixth Assessment on climate change and is the most alarming one yet. It is the second of three reports due in the series of assessments that are tracking and assessing the planet’s rapidly changing climate. The assessments are conducted approximately every six years and what we are seeing in this report is that the climate change effects have commenced much more quickly than originally forecast.

The first report covered the science behind the changing climate. It spelled out the nature of the unprecedented changes we are witnessing. This second report reflects the research and findings of hundreds of scientists worldwide. It describes the current impacts of climate change and what impacts can be expected in the future, as well as the feasibility of different adaptation strategies. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres indicated that he has not seen a scientific report paint such as a dire picture leading him to bluntly say - “delay (to act) is death.”

What is particularly troublesome about these “pitches” coming across our plate is that too many are using a culture war bat to hit at them. Those that say that Russia is somehow legitimately using extreme violence to get its way with Ukraine or that COVID is a made-up problem plus climate change is a hoax are not playing the game of how to survive on this planet. In my mind, they are gaming on the wrong field. These are serious threats we are talking about.

Let’s consider what our Republican led Texas government wants to do. Although Texas is one of the world leaders in generating renewable energy in the form of wind power generation plus holding incredibly rich solar energy resources, it is seemingly throwing its effort to save the oil and gas industry as it is rather than look to transition it.

Senate Bill 13 which passed in the last legislative session prohibits Texas from contracting with or investing in companies that divest from oil, natural gas and coal companies. “Dutifully”, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently contacted 19 investment firms such as financial giants BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase, accusing them of violating SB 13.

Hegar accuses the firms of “boycotting” fossil fuels through what are called ESG funds. ESG funds are designed to invest funds that are geared toward “social good.” This means the funds consider environmental, societal, and corporate governance factors. It is presumed by Hegar that this means renewables will be prioritized and fossil fuels avoided.

According to SB 13, any company that is in violation risks having its existing contracts with the Texas government canceled and could be cut out of Texas pension funds.

Consider that in a raging pandemic in 2020, ESG funds were the fastest growing segment of the global market. It is on track to reach $41 trillion by the end of the year. Globally, this is about 1/3 of the managed assets.

So in face of the burgeoning renewables increase and the huge asset market geared into its direction, we see our state’s Republican leadership fight against this. Doing this for an industry that has shrunk from 21% of our state’s GDP in 1981 to 10% today makes no sense for our future.

We need to stop the culture war game and play on the field of reality.

W Laurence Doxsey, Retired, Former Director of Office of Sustainability for City of San Antonio, former Environmental Officer for US Department of Housing and Urban Development, former Sustainability Officer for City of Austin, resides outside Medina.