By We Are Still In
To date, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy and societal leadership yet assembled in pursuit of climate action. Since forming in 2017 to demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement and America’s contribution to it, the We Are Still In coalition has grown to over 3,900 members spanning red and blue regions across all 50 states and representing over half the American population and two thirds of the US economy.
We Are Still In also aims to showcase the diverse bench of leaders who are stepping up and driving institutional change across the country - whether they come from states, tribes, cities, counties, academia, businesses, faith groups, healthcare organizations, and cultural institutions. These individuals are leaders in their institutions and among their peers. They serve as ambassadors for We Are Still In and the goals of ambitious action to address climate change, helping to build confidence at home and abroad and build political support. The We Are Still In Leaders Circle helps guide and give voice to this movement.
However, a coalition meant to represent America must also look like America. The work is ongoing, but with the recent additions of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) to the We Are Still In Executive Committee which advises and helps shape the coalition’s strategy, We Are Still In is evolving to better center climate justice and equity principles in our work.
In June, following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery We Are Still In issued a statement supporting the Movement for Black Lives and recommitting ourselves to undertaking the work of dismantling systemic racism across society and in the institutions that comprise the coalition.
As part of that effort, We Are Still In is using the platform of the Leaders Circle to amplify several new members and ensure that this group is more representative of the diversity of the climate movement and U.S. society at large. All of the leaders here and their institutions are committed to these goals. We are grateful to each of them and appreciate the opportunity to support their critical climate work.
For Climate Week we want to focus the conversation on the Climate Justice in Action from the leaders and sectors implementing climate action across the US so we hope you will join us on Thursday September 24th at 11AM for our event.
View the Leader Circle's members.
By S&P Global
Our vision of the coming climate disaster is limited by political, practical, and professional horizons—which limit foresight to, at best, a decade. The tragedy of this limited horizon is that our planning cycles are out of sync with the systemic risks of global climate change.
In a 2015 speech at Lloyd’s of London, Mark Carney, the economist and then Governor of the Bank of England evoked the metaphor of the horizon to describe the market’s relationship with long term threats like climate change.
Carney focused on three risks for financial stability from climate change: Physical Risk, as threatened assets and liabilities; Liability Risk, as compensation sought from those perceived as responsible for climate change; and Transition Risk, as costs associated with transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.
The apparent horizon is now five years further along than it was when Mr. Carney gave his speech. If nothing else, the event of irreversible climate change is five years closer and is now visible on the apparent horizon.
Nonetheless, there is also evidence of businesses, investors, politicians, and technocratic authorities’ longer-term visions. The horizon appears clearer, if not closer, because we’re developing the social and political will to address the challenges of climate change.
There are three potential reasons why climate risk has entered the horizon of our planning cycles:
- Actions in nature. The speed of change has been far faster than most models predicted. Fires, droughts, and rising sea levels represent immediate threats to physical assets that cannot be attributed to random chance.
- Actions by governments and international organizations. Governments are increasingly pushing climate disclosure and private partnerships like the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures are establishing guidelines to measure climate impact.
- Maturity cycle of financial instruments. As the average maturity of a U.S. corporate bond is 17 years, the average bond maturity will approach the year 2040—the period that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined will see climate change have been addressed or have become irreversible.
While climate change is increasingly visible within our planning horizon, this is not itself a reason for optimism. A shifting horizon on climate risk may reflect an acceptance of the inevitability of changes in global temperature in excess of the ‘well below two-degree Celsius’ target proposed under the Paris Accords, rather than a commitment to forestall that change.
Investors focused on the carbon intensity of financial assets are aware of and preparing for transition risks, whereas investors focused on physical asset risk related to climate change are necessarily aware of and preparing for the possibility of inaction.
To be clear, responsible investors must take both physical and transition risks into account, but the weighting of these two approaches will indicate the relative market force of optimism versus pessimism on climate.
Looking at the methodologies of both the Climate Bonds Initiative and the EU Green Bond Standard, it’s not clear how much green or climate bonds are focused on transition versus physical risk. A green bond focused on mitigation is inherently pessimistic regarding a transition to a low carbon economy—since it plans for the worst.
The EU Green Bond Standards allow for climate change mitigation as one of their six environmental objectives. The Climate Bonds Initiative does allow for “flood, sea and drought defenses including pumping stations, levees, gates.” However, there is no current data on whether most green bonds focus on transition or mitigation.
Most market observers believe that the current pricing of rare earth metals is not reflective of the needs of an energy transition necessary to limit to a two-degree temperature change.
The World Bank estimates that production of neodymium, a key element for permanent magnets found in wind turbines and electric vehicles, will have to increase by 50% to meet demand from just wind turbine expansion; yet neodymium still trades well below its long- term average.
The structure of green bonds and the pricing of rare earth metals are just two snapshots of the apparent horizon. Neither are definitive. They simply provide different views on whether or not the horizon is representative of tragedy or opportunity.
We look forward to discussing these issues and more at Climate Week NYC this year.
At AT&T, we understand climate risks all too well. With the growing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, climate change threatens our infrastructure and adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of disaster recovery.
That’s why, in addition to our mitigation commitment to reach carbon neutrality, we are working to make our company more resilient to the impacts of climate change on future generations. We’ve been collaborating recently with climate experts to develop an industry-leading Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT), that visualizes and projects which neighborhoods and which pieces of infrastructure will be at risk in the future. Using detailed maps, we aim to improve the resilience of our network so our customers can continue to count on vital network connections in the aftermath of future disasters. We’re also sharing our climate data publicly so that communities can take steps to prepare and build climate resilience for their citizens.
In 2019, we piloted CCAT with a focus on the American Southeast. Working with scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, we used their expertise and supercomputing capabilities to model how climate change will drive four types of extreme weather events over the next 30 years:
- Inland flooding caused by increased precipitation
- Coastal flooding caused by sea level rise and hurricane surge
- High-intensity winds from hurricanes
- Non-hurricane high-intensity winds
Now we are expanding the scope of CCAT to cover the entire contiguous U.S. We also are growing the range of climate impacts we look at, adding drought and wildfire projections to ensure we’re aware of the most salient risks in each region.
With the tool’s insights about the prospects of extreme weather events in the coming decades, we can make more informed business decisions. For example, if we have a better sense of what areas might be prone to flooding or high-intensity winds, we can place our network infrastructure accordingly to better ensure uninterrupted service for our customers who rely on us for vital connections.
But the tool goes beyond resilience for AT&T’s infrastructure. After all, as we know from hurricanes like Harvey or Laura, the wildfires that rage across the western United States, or last year’s floods in the Midwest, almost every individual and community is vulnerable to climate change. It is a crisis that we face together as a global community, and building climate resilience is a critical component of ensuring a better world for everyone. It is our hope that, in making this hyper-localized climate data publicly available and free to access, nonprofits, municipalities and companies will use it to plan and build resilience based on their own vulnerabilities.
We already have started that mission. In 2019, we launched a Climate Resiliency Community Challenge whereby five universities are collaborating with local governments in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina to use the data from our pilot to look at climate hazards. The results of this research should help local policy makers better understand community vulnerabilities and identify solutions to deal with these local threats. Their initial work underscores what too many people across the country have already experienced firsthand: vulnerability to climate change is not evenly distributed. Instead, underserved communities tend to face the greatest dangers while having the least ability to cope with disasters.
As a research team at the University of Miami told us, “Historical practices of segregation continue to exert suppressive force on economic growth and health and well-being in these neighborhoods, exacerbating vulnerabilities to climate change impacts.”
The costs of climate change already are being borne. We know that we must adapt, even as we work to mitigate climate change through our net-zero emissions commitment and technology that helps customers reduce their emissions. At AT&T, we have long been focused on using our technology to solve real-world problems. Climate change is real world. We’re resolved to take action today to strengthen our communities for the well-being of all residents tomorrow. And we’re resolved to provide them a network that, despite the impacts of climate change, will continue to connect our customers to the people and things they care about.