A matter of opportunity
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We need to be convinced that the measures we're taking toward a more sustainable future are not some kind of collective punishment but in fact an economic and cultural incentive providing great entrepreneurial opportunities. This approach might even change the mind of President-elect

From Marrakesh, we look to the future. COP22, founded and held on the ''roller coaster'' of international events that, since last summer, have marked the entire world (the contrasts between Russia and the U.S. on Syria, Laurent Fabius’ complaint of a lack of interest in COP21 in Paris, post-Brexit and Trump’s election) has decided to keep a low profile, without backing down one single bit on the obligations ratified by more than 55 percent of the signatory countries, as required by Paris in December 2015. These obligations will require, between 2017 and 2018, control regulations in various countries and the launching of the $100 billion fund allocated to countries in the Southern Hemisphere and those in difficulty, for the sustainable development of the economies. Donald Trump has also clearly been very present as a ''Dom Juan'' to the point that the President of COP22, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, addressed him directly, inviting him to use one of his virtues on which even his opponents do not despair: pragmatism. That same pragmatism was used by Obama after the summer in which Fabius had expressed his concerns about the ratification of Paris 2015 in Le Monde. Therefore, the U.S. and China were the first two countries to sign what was in fact Barack Obama’s final international diplomatic political act: the two great states had decided to be first to sign the ratification and were followed over the coming days and weeks by other major countries, eventually reaching and then exceeding 55 percent of the countries under consideration, thus bringing into force the Treaty and guaranteeing the start of the actual activities of COP21. The European States, which in the past were normally first in line on these matters, decided to offer a ''common view'' and sign, following the European Commission’s decision at the end of September to advise all Member States to sign the Paris Treaties. By mid-October, a 55 percent threshold was exceeded, therefore establishing the Marrakesh summit as a joyous ratification of the process that had been launched after the formal meeting of September 21 held at the United Nations.

How does Donald Trump's election change things?

The election of Donald Trump creates uncertainty for near-term activities. We should consider the electoral campaign statement made by the U.S. President-elect regarding ''the need to rewrite agreements and defend the country’s domestic coal industry''. It is unthinkable that a summit of countries prepared over years, one that has decided to take action related to present and future industrial plans for countries, to make substantial funds available for developing (or underdeveloped) countries, and to hold U.N. summits for joint control over activities in order to achieve the specific goals of the Paris summit can now be easily cancelled. Can it be undone by Donald J. Trump, the most divisive U.S. President of the last 40 years? However, beyond President-elect Trump and the official and future positions of the United States, it is important to understand whether the policies of other countries that have joined are changing. What degree of impact is this having on the private industrial sector and, especially, on all sectors dealing with energy and environmental sustainability? So here are the facts: by reaching at least 55 percent of ratifications of the countries that signed the Paris commitments, the treaty has been in force and operational in all its points since November 4, 2016. The main objective of the treaty is to reduce the uncontrolled rise in the Earth’s temperature, to keep that rise in global warming below 2°, and to reach a maximum increase of 1.5° by 2030. To this end, certain specific points have been identified through which to measure the new national/international policies of various countries: energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, new food and agricultural methods, stopping the expanded use of land, industrial reconversion, and the development of new manufacturing sectors. These actions mainly affect each individual country’s industrial policy choices and the resultant choices of individual companies and the use of energy for production, and may constitute a strong disincentive to national policies and national budgets that favor coal and oil: the ''good old'' fossil fuels. In theory, divestment from these sectors should lead users to renewable energies. This strategy has already spread in the global debate for several years since the Kyoto agreements, but now, after Paris, this approach has become imperative because of the way the future use of energy is envisaged.

The real challenges to be faced in the near future

Climate and global warming are the root issues for consideration of future strategy. These two major challenges have a cascade effect that needs to be addressed: consideration must be given to the heavy urbanization that is generating car-centered cities on every continent, with the accompanying streets and roads, residential facilities and, above all, infrastructure. These are the issues raised by U.N. Habitat (the United Nations Human Settlements Program) for several years and by associations of local authorities such as the UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) network that just a few years ago unified the French and Anglo-Saxon sides of two global associations. The topic is not exclusively climate, but also about services to citizens, new building constructions and new infrastructure. Cash must be found to invest in cities and allow their redesign, and to invest not only in the industrial sectors, which must design new mobility tools, but also the infrastructure to receive them. At the level of global studies, the U.N. Commission, which within U.N. Habitat deals with climate and economy, has calculated that the U.S. with its ''urban sprawl'', the expanse of roads, services and infrastructure surrounding U.S., urban boundaries with a specific focus on the car, costs Trump’s country approximately one billion dollars per year. Hundreds of millions of hours are lost in traffic congestion, both a human problem and an economic problem seen in an estimated 10 percent lost annual income and a substantial loss related to pollution itself. Fortunately for Trump and his compatriots, as almost always in its history, the U.S. is also a producer of antidotes. The President-elect would do well to visit George Washington and Vanderbilt Universities, where he would learn that there are car concepts waiting to be produced that not only reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide but can even reuse it to recharge car batteries and electronic devices, thus going from ''Carbon neutral'' to ''Carbon negative''. Moreover, even in the rest of the four- and two-wheeled world, one can see activity that features hybrids and new mixed technology as an investment in the future, not just a ''trend''.

Marrakesh's conclusions

Marrakesh's conclusions

Marrakesh was the first major meeting on climate change after the historic agreement in Paris. Held at the same time as the American elections, COP22 closed with the hope that the new American President, Donald Trump, would not waste the paper on which the U.S. made its commitment against climate change a year ago. The summit ended with a declaration of support for the Paris agreement and with the approval of a document that marks the first steps toward drafting the regulations called for in the Paris agreement - to be concluded in 2018, two years before the agreement was to start functioning. The other delicate ''node'' was finance, The most developed (and most polluting) countries had pledged in Copenhagen in 2009 to pay $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries cope with the new rules. This sum, though, is far from enough. In Marrakesh, the rich countries pledged to increase gradually this amount after 2020. See you next year in Fiji.

Rethink power supply methods and decarbonization

The second point is to reconsider the capacities and methods for global power supply, the use of agriculture and the organization and protection of the environment, In 2050, there will be over 9 billion people, with a resultant need to increase food production by almost 60 percent compared with today. However, this increase should occur while we are also dedicated to halving carbon emissions in agriculture, stopping the expansion of deforestation and exploitation of free and/or forest land, and instituting policies that result in less food waste and better use of food chains. The third major point concerns energy systems and decarbonization, a central issue and often the only matter dealt with, due to its symbolic force. Concern is not limited to changing the type of energy used, which we know would be a paradigm shift compared to the previous century, but also and especially the role that energy plays in all manufacturing industries. For now, only the replacement of oil-powered vehicles with electric vehicles can be dealt with, but every legislator, entrepreneur and informed green activist knows that we are talking about how to guarantee energy to the industrial manufacturing sectors, and also especially to manufacturing sectors of advanced innovative service industries and to citizen services. The risk is in the contradiction that exists when we have electric vehicles and reusable electronic devices manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuel-based energy. After all, we are talking about an economy that, over a century, has experienced an almost 20-fold increase in GDP and which now, with an average growth of 4 percent, would in any case result at the end of the century in an almost 1,000-fold increase between a 21st century salary and one from 1900. With such growth, it seems difficult to convince someone that it is worthwhile to change the system. This is especially the case if, like Trump, they are convinced that the global warming described by scientists is a ''hoax''. So the real challenge arising from COP21 in Paris, its Agreements and all COPs that will follow is to convince decision makers that future construction is not voluntarily reductive with respect to economic development, but a boost to new forms of development of the future economy. We have lived and live in an economy based on a beginning and an end and a slogan that can be summed up as follows: extract/take, make/produce, remove/discard. If ideology were not prohibited we would say that it’s the crucial transition between classic capitalism and consumer capitalism. The choices of Kyoto and Paris introduce a different paradigm that will be implemented in relation to industrial policies and government policy choices, implementation that will not come from dangerous anarchists but from foreign ministers who have signed ratifications with a parliamentary vote. This is the paradigm of a circular economy in which the production and consumption of goods are relevant due to their production with reuse or use. Can anyone still doubt that it is not just a matter of moralism but also and above all of economy when an entire sector of use and reuse, recycling and waste storage, is flourishing? So much so that even the national and international underworld is investing huge financial resources in the sector. Or can there be doubt even when scientific research is in constant activity anticipating in and from the laboratories ''killer applications'' in terms of chemical materials and equivalents? Moreover, this new approach will take hold when government incentives increase, but above all when the market prepares itself with financial and stock exchange instruments, so as to ensure substantial investments in innovation, biotechnology, materials, and energy efficient and renewable structures.

The sustainability of new choices on the market

It is important to foresee when, both in terms of image and perception and from an economic point of view, all the 100 years of work involving the exploitation of fossil fuels and oil will be sustainable. We need to take into account current need but also realize that the entire sector that deals with energy efficiency and effectiveness has been the one with the greatest economic development and one that has produced businesses, especially innovative businesses. On these issues, Europe, more so than other countries and/or macro-regions, has been shown to believe and invest the most. This does not only involve growing good practices on a virtual level, but also connecting these practices with the business world. According to studies described at the Paris summit, the global chain of acceleration of the “circular” economy can be estimated at around $1 trillion ($1,000 billion) more per year, starting from 2025. Considering the commitment made by northern-hemisphere countries to guarantee $100 billion to southern-hemisphere countries for their reconversion or to repair procurement damages by 2020, this is no small feat. Now, net of what Trump will do, we must be aware that we are on the crest of action: the rise in global temperature is already at 1 percent and 1.5 percent is just a moment away, with the risk of reaching this in just 5 years, rather than by 2030. There is an entire industry of power plants as well as most industrial plants that need to change and reform their targets, while the air and maritime transport industries, with responsibility for 5 percent of the current increasing global emissions, have not yet applied themselves for change equal to that of other sectors. However, even more complicated is the ''battle of hearts''. This means convincing and being convinced that the Paris agreements, in operation after Marrakesh, are not some kind of collective punishment, but an economic and cultural boost. It’s good to know that in Europe from 1990 to 2014, while emissions decreased by almost 25 percent, the GDP, despite the economic crisis that began in 2008, did not decrease; in fact it increased by 47 percent. This is a sign that economic and social development do not have only one possible approach and that perhaps even Donald Trump, looking at the figures and businesses possibilities of the future, could be convinced that the economy, as history teaches us, follows the market and finance, not only when it comes to immediate and real economy but also when a possible future can be glimpsed. The rise and fall of stock tickers for IT innovation between the late 1990s and early 2000s are testimony to this. The financial ''bubble'' itself, if compared to what later meant the ''after'', namely the current development of IT companies (such as Apple, Google or Facebook or other social networks sold for millions of dollars) means that innovation, climate and market are not necessarily opposed to development. Provided that it is sustainable.