A place at the table

By Frank Convery, EDF Chief Economist

This regular column honors the memory of Robert W. Wilson, a longtime EDF supporter and champion of harnessing market forces to drive environmental progress.

British Member of Parliament Rory Stewart observes, “Ours is a culture not of ancestor worship, but of descent worship. Our opium is our children.” The evidence for this is epitomized by education: most parents try to ensure their children get the best education they can afford, giving them the intellectual and emotional resilience to manage an uncertain future.

But here we find a paradox. Climate change is among the greatest risks facing our children. But though we knock ourselves out to give them the best education possible, most of us pay scant attention to the future climate conditions our descendants will inherit.

There is an economic reason for this: The benefits of educating our offspring are direct. But when it comes to global warming, we need to work with others to produce a shared benefit, not just a private one. The good news is that 91 countries have expressed interest in using markets, a powerful and efficient method, to meet emission reductions targets set in Paris in 2015. And EDF is at the forefront in helping them deliver on their commitments.

A recent family holiday (which included granddaughter Grace, age seven) in the beautiful west of Ireland crystallized for me why this work is so important. Our mission is to bequeath, to every exuberantly curious seven-year-old of the future, a planet that still offers settings of natural beauty commensurate with her capacity for wonder.