Long awaited summer holidays this year will be memorable, not because of travel chaos, but due to extreme temperatures. Holiday destinations across southern Europe have seen records tumble daily as the heat intensifies. Temperatures of over 45°C are widespread. Wild fires have broken out across Greece, Italy, Turkey, Portugal, France, Croatia, even Switzerland. Northern African countries Algeria and Tunisia have faced struggles bringing wildfires under control. Let’s not forget that wildfires have been burning in Canada all year, with over 24 million acres damaged so far, and they are still burning. Phoenix Arizona, a city well used to high temperatures set new records as temperatures never dropped below 43°C day or night for most of July.  

These extreme pictures are reflected in average global temperatures also hitting new, unwelcomed highs. This month saw global average temperatures soar to an unprecedented 17.2°C (62.9°F). The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the four hottest days on record occurred from July 4 to July 7, 2023. 

The graphic below is from Climate Reanalyser and charts the rise in average air temperature since 1979:

July dominates average global temperature records; six of the most recent months of July are among the seven hottest months recorded. Christopher Hewitt, from the World Meteorological Organisation said, “We are in uncharted territory, and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024”. 

While many accept the need to transition to a lower emission future and adoption of renewable energies such as wind, solar and hydro power, the pace of change needs to accelerate significantly. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) highlighted the pressing need for attention to the risks associated with climate change. Rising ocean levels are threatening several island nations such as the Maldives, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. These island groups are facing loss of their cultures, economic collapse, food insecurity, and forced migration. It is estimated over 32 million people in Bangladesh will be at risk from rising waters by the end of the century.  

Even if we put every plan into action, reduce energy use and contain greenhouse gas emissions within the promised levels, sea levels will continue to rise. Warming seas are accelerating the loss of huge reserves of sea ice. The millions of tons of ice that previously surrounded both poles, Greenland and Alaska has reduced to its lowest level on record. As temperatures rise and the remaining ice melts, this rising tide won’t stop anytime soon. So, are there any nations well prepared? 

As we continue our journey at Stewardship Wealth towards B Corp status, there is an overwhelming sense of importance around environmental stewardship. B Corp was created in 2006 with the mission to inspire and enable people to use business as a force for good. Its purpose is to redefine success in business through building a community of engaged businesses, encouraging businesses to fully engage with stakeholders, not just shareholders.  

Environmental and sustainable investment can help each of us play our part in helping the fight against climate change. Most of our clients already hold environmental, social and governance influenced funds as part of our True Wealth portfolios. We plan to expand this area as new regulation and reporting standards make it easier to identify suitable funds. As Barack Obama has said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” Perhaps it really is time for actions to speak louder than words.