Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault spoke those words in Brussels Wednesday, during a meeting aimed at mobilizing private financing for international climate action.
But the observation extends so much farther. Financial self-interest drives every aspect of the institutional response to the climate emergency, its influence so central and decisive that officials rarely name it out loud.
It’s been the obvious, underlying cause of this summer’s killer heat waves and wildfires, after decades of climate denial and delayed action funded by fossil fuel companies that understood the science of climate change in the 1970s, but chose not to let the rest of us in on the secret.
It’s the smoking gun behind the moment that veteran climate writer Bill McKibben chronicles this morning in his Crucial Years newsletter, when firefighters in heat-soaked Phoenix, Arizona found a man sprawled in the street unconscious and covered in burns. His internal body temperature stood at 107°F/41.7°C, and his skin was peeling off. “Basically, his brain was fried,” said first responder Brandon Kanae.
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