2020 - the positive part

Today, I have several business-related topics I could write about, but all of them feel wildly out of touch with the current reality.

So far, 2020 has been a special year, and not in a good way. First Covid-19 - hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, and once that situation started to get under control George Floyd and protests started. I fully support these protests and every racist should fuck off, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. I always try to look at the positives in a situation, and the first 5 months of this year is no exception.

Pre-2020, there was broad consensus that this decade would be about climate change and shifting away from an economy based on fossil energy. While the climate change debate so far has been mostly focused on different “carrots”, I don’t think there are many people who believe we as a global population will reach the ambitious goals of the Paris agreement without some “stick” too.

The “stick” I’ve seen suggested most frequently is a carbon tax. This is something I fully support, and global implementation of a tax that takes the real cost of polluting into account would solve the problem overnight. But such a global implementation is a utopia, at least in the short run.

I believe that one reasons why such a tax is hard to implement, even locally, is loss aversion. We get more upset when we lose things than when we gain the equivalent. If commercial aviation was invented today and seats were sold with a carbon tax from the start, people would not complain the same way they would if it was added in an arrears. It’s harder to do these things because we feel we lose something.

This is the positive part of 2020 so far. Our expectations for what’s normal are reset to some degree. Reaching the goals of the Paris agreement will have to hurt*. There is no way we’ll get there with only carrots. And I’d rather take the stick now than in 5 years - because stick today means more time to rebuild and do things right.

I guess 2020 will continue to be turbulent for some time - probably through the year and more. We’ll have to endure. Knowing that some sort of pain is necessary in order for change to happen might make this easier. Because we have to change. And I’m optimistic that we will.

*I’m aware I’m in a privileged position feeling disproportionately little pain so far