FEDERICO R. LOPEZ AS yet another year comes to a close, we take time to reflect on the gains made and challenges overcome. It's shaping up to be another good year for the FPH Group, with our major businesses delivering solid results in 2019. Still, I can’t help but think about the escalating challenges that lie before us amidst a rapidly climatechanged world.
The climate emergency that’s unfolding globally is startling in the scale, intensity and speed at which its effects are being felt. We see it in the unprecedented forces surrounding California’s wildfires and power utility PG&E’s bankruptcy filing, we see it in the imminent loss of cultural heritage treasures like Venice or coastal cities like Miami, Florida in their daily struggle with sea-level rise, or the announcement of President Jokowi of Indonesia to move their capital to East Kalimantan in anticipation of the combined effects of ground subsidence and a rising sea. We saw it in Cape Town, South Africa’s struggle with a three-year drought, taking water supplies perilously close to Day Zero where every resident would have had to reduce their water consumption to less than 25 liters a day. I don’t even have to specify the unprecedented effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico or Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Why? Because they’re already familiar to us who lived through Typhoon Yolanda.
Recently, the United Nations announced that despite the Paris agreements, carbon dioxide levels have reached record highs again in 2019; and the longer it takes to bring carbon emissions down to zero, the higher the cost and the tougher it will be to keep temperatures safely below the 1.5°C threshold. Our current trajectory puts us at 4.1°C to 4.8°C of warming by the end of the century.
Our altered planet now calls for a drastic rethink of where we source our energy, given the growing constraint to emit more carbon. The Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, must learn to operate in a low-carbon world. The way we use energy must change as well; from the design of net zero energy efficient buildings and using better insulation, to schemes using district cooling or district heating for cold climates. The redesign of our infrastructure for resilience also needs to happen. Natural lightweight building materials like bamboo, which has the compressive strength of cement and the tensile strength of steel, can be valuable tools in the war on climate change.
How and where we get our food is also central to a decarbonized world. The raising of livestock for meat and dairy accounts for anywhere from a low of 15% to as much as 50% of greenhouse gasses and needs to be reduced. We must also learn to treat water as a precious resource and adopt strategies of water-scarce nations.
Yet all of these solutions cannot completely and definitively address the existential threat to life on our planet without one fundamental paradigm shift: the mindless pursuit of growth above all else. Our unbridled consumption and consumerism have pushed us to use way beyond our needs, into wants, and sadly towards greed. The endless obsession brought us so-called material and technological wealth, but it’s destroyed a lot of what we should’ve been valuing more and unjustly left too many behind. We need to keep in mind that “the purpose of business is to solve human and planet problems profitably, not profit from creating problems.”
Given the short time frames we have in which to act and the planetary changes that are already underway, we need to move simultaneously on two fronts: stopping global warming at 1.5°C and adapting to a changed and more dangerous planet. The thought is already causing despair in some. But despair and climate change denial are two sides of the same coin. We can choose to see our climate crisis either through the lens of destruction, or the lens of preservation. We can see extinction or we can instead choose to see opportunity.
Our Lopez Values lead me to see through the lenses of both preservation and opportunity. This climate crisis is precisely the kind of challenge our companies are built for. We have this one great opportunity not just to be a part of it, but to lead it.
When I look forward to the New Year I am also filled with great pride that we may continue this great work with you: our employees, our family. I wish you all a blessed, peaceful and prosperous holiday season.