Balancing Emission Omission & Commission Worldwide

Climate change has been in our lexicon for a while now and anthropogenic carbon emissions one of the assigned suspects. More recently our national discourse has focused on varying economic solutions as pertains to climate issues. So, riddle me this: are the proposed solutions based on sound risk management methodologies?

This article is not intended as a turd grenade thrown towards any one solution…I’m simply wondering out loud if scientific and thought leaders crafting the varying solutions have done the hard work to clearly understand exactly what areas/activities on our planet really should be investing in mitigating actions. Here is just one example: there are 5,615 coal fueled power plants (existing or under construction) in the world and all of them are in only eight countries. Closer to home the U.S. has 15 of those and we are not building any more. So, the reader fully appreciates this, let me reiterate: I am not disparaging or any one solution. I am simply raising a concern that large, sweeping laws, concepts, initiatives, and ideas are likely to miss these types of distinctions.

Climate change is an inherently global problem and reducing carbon emissions is posited as an important part of the solution. Policies contained within a nation’s borders must take into consideration emissions outside of that border by those who will not be governed by those policies. Otherwise how can leaders accurately weigh the global benefit associated with the local costs of the proposed mitigation efforts? It is targeted risk mitigation from an exact amount of greenhouse gas emissions — no more and no less than needed. It has already been declared that carbon emissions have an incentivized, tradable value. If reduced carbon emissions are to be monetized, then who will be the beneficiary of that commodity? Pretty sure it will not be the consumers and those most vulnerable to climate risks.

If sound risk management methodologies were applied to achieve quantifiable priorities (and quantifiable benefits beyond an unachievable ideal), these sweeping initiatives would be more effectively applied where necessary and limited resources applied smartly; or, applied commensurate with the risk. Quantifiable priorities take all the emotion out of feel-good ideas and really allow the varying solutions to find common ground and focus on what is real, not what might be lurking under the bed.


This article from McKinsey & Company is recommend reading and adds some important perspectives and data points to consider as pertains to my thoughts above.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.


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