I have been lucky enough in my life to have lived and worked in multiple countries around the world. That taught me many things, but one that always surprised me was how people’s views on things vary depending on where they live. Climate change is a case in point. In the U.S., where I now live, the conversation is still influenced by some debate as to whether it is real, or at the very least whether it is man-made. In the rest of the world though, those things are taken as given and the conversation is entirely around how best to deal with it. That has become clear this week at the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, and understanding the global view has implications for investors that could easily be missed by those living here.
The simple fact is that the world is taking steps to address the issue, and that fact remains even if you deny its existence. There are two things in particular about this week’s conference that stand out as indicators.
The first is the location of the summit itself. Katowice has been for years the center of the important Polish coal industry. The choice of that city as the location for this meeting, and even more the city’s acceptance of the role, sends a powerful message that as far as most of the world is concerned, coal, and therefore by extension fossil fuels in general, are if not dead, dying.
The second is that the U.S. effectively sent two delegations to the summit, one official and one not. The official…