Emissions up?! Ain’t that a kick in the head

We’ve had a kick in the head from the numbers. According to the Emissions Gap 2021 report published by the UN, the world got hotter last year and emissions went up globally.

We’re not all increasing emissions, Climate Watch produces an interactive, country by country , digital sourcebook that allows you to follow your country’s progress towards carbon neutrality. If you own an FT subscription you can see the data even better set out.

With the same subscription you can read Martin Woolf’s superb analysis of what needs to be committed to at COP26. 

To get meaningful change, we need to understand what happens without it. But, as I’ve been saying on this blog for the past few days, we don’t seem to be visualizing what this will mean for our futures. I have every intention of being on this planet in 30 years time. My 60th birthday is a fortnight away and I am only 2/3 of my to my current life expectancy. But is this the shape of the United states when I’m closing in on 90?

This is why it is important to make not just our money, but everything we do- matter. As Mark Carney said in a 2020 lecture for Policy Exchange,

‘We can’t self-isolate from climate change’

In this speech Carney argued that following the pandemic, the world would be in a position to build back in a less harmful way. But, as the Guardian and the UN points out, this does not appear to have happened.


The point is well made. We are allowing the one good thing that has come out of Covid, our awareness of what global catastrophe can mean, to slip away. If we could not reduce emissions when we weren’t flying around, how do we expect to do it when we “get back to normal”?

This is why it is so important that we get into a mindset which asks ourselves the question, “how do we do better?”. It is so important that in our individual bubbles, we make what we do matter. Hats off to Cushon for taking the steps they have taken to get “net-zero” now and translate to a sustainable net-zero through the management of their fund.

Hats off to Nest for its commitment to investment in alternative energy sources and well done the UK in bucking the global trend and reducing our emissions last year. We need to feel proud that are emissions fell by 2.2% last year, but we are still in the top 20 world pollutants.

We have a chance to focus on this over the next few weeks and I hope we will do so in a spirit of co-operation. Not everyone is turning up as they should for COP26 but that does not mean COP26 can’t change things.

There are people in Government, including our Pension Minister, who get it. My friend David Farrar, who has recently gone to Nest , is helping me to get it (though I get it wrong sometimes!). People like Amanda Latham are coming out of Government and into consultancy with knowledge and power. Share Action, Pirc, Minerva and others are driving change resolutely and consistently over the years. In many ways we are using our pensions to make our money matter.

So while I feel like I just got kicked in the head,  I’m not down!



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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