Tackling the shrinking democratic space for climate decisions
The decisions needed to deliver a stable climate over the next 20 years will be taken in the context of shrinking democratic space in all countries and a shift towards power-driven geopolitics globally. This is important because the majority of coal power stations and infrastructure (over 75 per cent) and the oil and gas reserves (over 80 per cent) are state owned or regulated. Most fossil fuel supporting infrastructure (eg, pipelines, railways, ports, refineries, roads) is funded through public spending and/or supported by public risk guarantees.
This ownership structure results in very high levels of political entanglement with the fossil-fuel based industry and entrenched hard and soft corruption around major infrastructure decisions. Moving to a well below 2 degrees pathway requires shifting $90 trillion in new infrastructure investment towards clean, efficient and resilient options by 2030. Even though renewable energy will continue to fall in price, market forces alone will not be enough to dismantle existing fossil infrastructure. There will be a need for explicit political decisions to shift current energy, infrastructure and land use decisions onto a sustainable path.
The democratic space to influence these critical decisions is shrinking. Restrictions on civil society activity, aggressive “info-war” campaigns by commercial and state actors, hard and soft corruption and direct State repression are warping infrastructure choices to generate short term private profits rather than long term public benefits. Unless climate actors directly work to improve the “space” for transparent and responsive decision making in the public interest it is highly unlikely societies will deliver climate safety.
If we are not making good decisions about the present, how will we be able to make the right decisions over the future?
London Climate Action Week is designed to be a distinct event in the global calendar to complement the other major global climate events, such as Climate Week NYC and the One Planet Summit. Strategically placed just after the Bonn Climate Change conference (June 17-27) and coinciding with Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup, it provides a milestone in the calendar to get ducks in a row ahead of a notably important UN Secretary General’s Summit in September.
At this invitation-only event we anticipate 15-30 attendees from a mix of civil society, government, private sector and philanthropic community to attend.