A two degree limit on the rise of the earth’s temperature will not be enough to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change. Extraordinary measures are therefore required to contain global warming, capping the increase to a maximum of 1.5 degrees before 2050. This is one of the main conclusions delivered by Peter Newman, professor of sustainability at Curtin University in Perth (Australia) during the opening session “Facing Climate Change” sponsored by BBVA and the Fundació Catalunya Europa.
The program was initiated with the intention to foster debate and develop concrete proposals to address climate change at a city level, thereby promoting sustainable development. The series focuses on three operating spheres where BBVA has been heavily involved: the academic world, the business world, and the scientific world.
The program’s main activities that will be organized through April 2019 include seminars with academic experts, forums with business people, and conferences about climate change and sustainable finance, which are open to the public. Prominent international experts will participate in the events; experts such as Nicholas Stern, recipient of the BBVA Foundation 2010 Frontiers of Knowledge Award and professor at the London School of Economics and Peter Newman, professor of sustainability at Australia’s Curtin University.
BBVA, a pioneer in sustainable development and the fight against climate change
BBVA – aware that climate change is one of the primary challenges facing society in the twenty-first century – wants to play a key role in promoting sustainable development and mobilizing resources to stop the rise in the earth’s temperature.
To this end, during his participation in the Re-city event Antoni Ballabriga, global head of responsible business at BBVA, stressed that “there are more and more investors and customers who are attuned to the implications of climate change, and businesses have to be proactive about confronting the challenge of global warming.” Ballabriga added, “For years BBVA has been working with solutions and products related to climate change, but we’ve gone even further with our Pledge 2025”.
BBVA had previously announced its climate change and sustainable development strategy to help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Pledge 2025 aligns the bank’s activities to help it do its part in keeping global warming from rising more than 2 degrees, striking a balance between sustainable energy and fossil fuel investments.
The bank’s commitment as set forth in Pledge 2025 is based on three lines of action: financing, management and engagement. Accordingly, BBVA aims to mobilize 100 billion euros by 2025 in green finance, sustainable infrastructure, social entrepreneurship, and financial inclusion projects; to reduce its footprint by 2025 with 70 percent of the energy it contracts coming from green sources; and to work to engage its stakeholders in the collective promotion of a greater contribution to sustainable development by the financial sector.
“We don’t think climate change can be fought by uncoordinated, individual efforts, which is why we are trying to involve as many of our customers and employees as possible. The initiative of the Re-City platform, in association with the Fundació Catalunya Europa, is complementary to these considerable goals,” Antoni Ballabriga concluded.
Peter Newman, professor of sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Experts warn of the risks of global warming
The three academics who form the Re-City series’ Science Committee also participated in the presentation: Xavier Rodó, Lorenzo Chelleri, and Humberto Llavador.
Xavier Rodó, head of the CLIMA Program at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health stated, “cities have to drive change” and warned that “the cost of climate change will not only impact the poorest societies as had previously been predicted, but the wealthiest and most advanced societies will also significantly suffer the consequences of climate change.” He remarked that “the cost of climate change has been calculated at 16 trillion dollars.” Therefore, according to Rodó, “climate change impacts everyone” and he provided a local example, “Barcelona has 100 tropical nights per year, but this figure is projected to increase. It follows that climate change is not a phenomenon with limited, distant consequences, rather they are felt in our day to day.”
Lorenzo Chelleri, professor at the International University of Catalonia and director of the international master’s program in city resilience design and management provided an overview of the Re-city series’ program touching on specific goals such as addressing the water crisis.
The Science Committee’s third member, Humberto Llavador, professor of economics at Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra, asserted that “The economy and climate change have to be spoken about together. One of the impacts of climate change will be the need to collectively address the interests of different groups and societies, both now and in the future.”
The international guest expert, Peter Newman, outlined the primary conclusions from the International Panel on Climate Change’s latest study, approved this week, and which he co-authored: “With the Paris Agreement the world has committed to not exceeding the pre-industrial average temperature by two degrees. The IPCC report concludes that we cannot surpass 1.5 degrees because the impact of two degrees is too high. Temperatures have already exceeded 1.1 degrees. Therefore, we must move more quickly toward a low carbon economy, free of fossil fuels.”
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