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Theatre of the Absurd

May 19, 2022

Op-ed for Illuminem: May 16, 2022

Who would not agree with Ukrainian scientist Svitlana Krakovska: “Let me assure you that this human-induced climate change and war against Ukraine have direct connections and the same roots. They are fossil fuels and humanity’s dependence on them”. That insurers, like the rest of the financial world, end up being facilitators of this process ought to not surprise anyone either. As we navigate ourselves into dire straits, we seem to be enacting a theatre of the absurd.

“It is astounding to me that our current economic model expects to continue to grow our energy use exponentially forever”, I quote Erin Remblance. Referring to her recent Op-Ed in Environmental Finance, says Desiree Fixler. “I call out the hypocrisy of the net zero-pledged asset managers who continue to invest in coal, oil and gas expansion projects. There is just no way for investors to achieve net zero without setting fossil fuel exclusion policies.”

All the World’s turning out to be a theatre of the absurd! “The fate of the earth rests in the hands of JPMorgan Chase.” World’s biggest financier of fossil fuel. Points out Billy Gridley 🇺🇦Climate & Capital Media. He further reminds: “Dimon and JPMorgan cannot and will not walk away from oil and gas profits. To do so would present the company, its shareholders and civilization as we know it, with the greatest financial risk ever in the history of banking. You only have to read Carbon Tracker, PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) and Climate Action 100+ research on Peak Oil, stranded asset risk and looming accounting and audit issues, to get a sinking feeling the entire banking industry is as dependent on the future of fossil fuel as the oil and gas industry.

In that sense, the war in Ukraine is a godsend. To save democracy, it is now the patriotic duty of the industry to extract as much fossil fuel as it can, and in as short a time as possible”.

“What will his legacy be?” Bill Gridley moves the spotlight on to Warren Buffett.

“Let’s start with carbon pollution. The allocation of investment capital beloved by Buffett is headed smack into a science-based brick wall of rising heat. What does Mr. Buffett have to say about that?

At $125 billion Mr. Buffett is one of the richest men in the world, yet he eats breakfast at Mcdonald’s every day. He is 91 years of age and will be damned! He wants to remain chair and CEO.

But his source of profit comes from companies that are coming under scrutiny for promoting a deteriorating quality of life. Increasingly, Buffett will be judged by more than profits and his ability to spin the media. Carbon pollution, diabetes – think cherry coke and DQ delights – and air pollution spewing from power plants in poor neighborhoods may be his central legacy. Only when he leaves office does he promise to split the role of chair and CEO. He is Emperor Buffett. In the meantime, his message to shareholders: Let them eat Big Macs”.

Last but not the least, “only 8% surveyed insurers on course to achieve climate resiliency” says Capgemini. Time running out for the script and the stars!

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