Climate change’s potential financial effect on the worldwide economy took center stage this week at the United Nations’ Climate Summit in Paris, France. This gathering, which has been dubbed COP21 — and has already been extensively tracked by the Inquisitr — resulted in the same traditional call by officials for the worldwide population to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the inevitable end to fossil fuel consumption, but with a startling new twist.
Global warming and other climate change issues are — as Mashable noted — no longer being perceived by officials as an “either/or” problem, whereby “economic growth is sacrificed in order to address a massive environmental and developmental challenge.”
In other words, fighting climate change could also have financial benefits.
— USAID Policy (@USAIDPolicy) December 16, 2015
“The positive shift in how people are talking about climate action and economic growth is striking,” said Helen Mountford, the program director for the New Climate Economy, an international project focused on tackling issues related to climate change. “[A] change in opinion on social media is just one part of the larger story.”
Specifically, this group uncovered that the biggest objection traditionally found on social media to not combat climate change — that tackling our climate-related concerns is just too costly — fell by 15 percent over a three-year period. This data included surveys of more than 430,000 English-language posts across Twitter, Facebook, and the more vague “blogs and online forums.” Data was collected between January 1, 2013, and December 12, 2015, the date of the Climate Summit. The data also, Mashable noted, observed a 700 percent increase in the discussion of the benefits of battling climate change.
“From business leaders, to government policymakers around the world, to economists, to mayors, to the general public,” Mountford continued, “There is a deepening understanding that climate action is not only necessary, but it can also be good for development and growth.”
The report’s viewpoint on the public’s perception of the cost of taking on climate change could, however, be skewed by the New Climate Economy’s overall interest in portraying the battle against temperature change as an economic opportunity, Mashable noted.
New Climate Economy spokesperson Joel Jaeger, in particular, clarified that errors could have occurred if the team selected the wrong keyword, as the algorithm used could not “detect sarcasm.”
“Since this analysis is only looking at people who are engaged in the conversation about growth and climate,” said Jaeger, “It won’t capture all climate change deniers in the negative category; it will only capture those climate change deniers who argue that climate action will hurt the economy… It won’t capture all people who are for climate action unless they use economic terms in their post.”
At the 2015 Climate Summit, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also told Mashable that the onus for discovering if there is a financial bonus to fighting climate change likely falls on the shoulders of the private sector.
“I don’t, frankly, look to government to solve this problem over the course of the next few years. It’s not going to happen… It’s the private sector, the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs is going to find a way to do battery storage for alternative and renewable energy, or we’re going to find a way to burn energy, or maybe this dream of fusion is going to be accelerated and actually have a commercial viability. I don’t know the answer, but I have absolute confidence in the ability of capital to move where the signal of the marketplace says ‘go’ after Paris.”
Should New Climate Economy’s data regarding popular public opinions prove true, there might be a few more climate change activists surfacing over time.
[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]