In the summer that wipes out what global warming has in store, bleak prospects can dampen the fun of a vacation. Some scientists then point to studies showing to what extent, at least in theory, it is still possible to intervene.
For example, historian Yuval Harari’s team has already found that most reports on the cost of keeping temperatures in check amount to about 2% of global GDP. Harari emphasizes that this is a large sum, but it is entirely possible. For example, it is less than what the United States spent to save banks in the 2008 crisis.
Scientists at Canada’s University of Waterloo now say that what shareholders in just ten companies decide will determine future greenhouse gas emissions.
They were based on the “Carbon Underground 200”: a list of the 200 largest fossil fuel companies. The 200 combined hold 98% of the reserves. If we used it, it would result in almost three times more emissions than we are allowed to emit if we wanted to keep warming below a degree and a half.
The team looked at which shareholders own at least one percent of Carbon Underground 200. They identified 918 of them and found out who had the greatest impact and influence by looking at their potential emissions in their portfolio and how closely each shareholder related to others in the group.
The players with the greatest influence appear to be asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard, followed by the Indian government and State Street asset manager. Saudi Arabia manages most of the potential issues, but because the country owns its shares in only one company, Saudi Aramco, it ranks “only” in fifth place.
It also appears that only ten financial companies have nearly half of the potential emissions and have an average of twenty times the connections and thus have a much greater influence than others within this powerful fossil network. In other words: a small circle only needs to be persuaded to change course to avoid a lot of additional emissions. “We cannot achieve our climate goals without addressing these players,” says researcher Trozard Dordi.
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