A Victory for Climate Security Datelined 2036

Part of the Bank of Nature design process is to engage a creative strategic planning exercise called “backcasting.”

One of the failings of modern sustainability is the lack of an end point. We don’t know where we are headed — except for climate catastrophe. The systems in place are not leading us to a time when we might feel safer.

Backcasting imagines a world already made sustainable and then working backward to assess what steps we must make to get there.

This month (June, 2023) we are attending an Energy Ethics conference at St. Andrews University, Scotland and presenting an imaginative paper called A Victory for Climate Security Datelined 2036.

As a missive from 2036, the paper imagines how Bernard Looney, CEO of oil company BP, has (past tense) make good on his stated goal to transition from oil toward an integrated oil company.

Link to Scotland Paper PDF is here.

When the systems in which BP operates are short-term, growth-centric, and future-toxic, how can we take Looney’s comments seriously. It involves a different set of partners who exist, but are untapped, as potent climate heroes.

As illustration, this is our hypothetical news story datelined 2036.

If the “Future News Today” image is hard to read, we have a more tradition post version here.

How does BP succeed in its goal?

In our version of a future made sustainable, oil companies like BP look for alternative financial partners than Wall Street speculators. We’ve made the case for pension plan fiduciaries to step up as climate heroes because they have the mission, legal duty and enormous financial scale to do so. Granted, it’s a nontraditional option in a stuck status quo, but consider the potential.

In this future, an alliance of public pensions form an $5-trillion alliance (which is utterly feasible right now) to buy and retire oil companies — as a fiduciary choice that adheres to their fiduciary duty obligations and benefits their youngest eligible beneficiaries.

This is one potential outcome from our Senate Bill in Massachusetts that gets its first hearing also this month. Public pensions globally have the financial heft to pay for climate security and have money left over. By buying BP and the 19 richest oil and gas companies in the world, this alliance only needs $4 trillion. Yes, it’s a lot of money. But public pension fiduciaries control 10x that value — fiduciary money that is at work in non fiduciary ways in the global economy.

At a time when the stuck status quo is lacking ideas, this is one.