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Part 3: A Victory for Climate Security 2036
Our key finding: BP needs a new finance partner that speaks "fiduciary"
In this third and final part of the paper that we presented at the Energy Ethics Conference at St. Andrews University in June 2023, we find an answer to how BP can make go on its goals to become an integrated energy company — and transition, through fiduciary partners, from the status quo.
Backcasting is a creative, design initiative to see new paths. Your path might be different. We’re happy to discuss what works and what doesn’t.
Part 3: BP needs a new finance partner that speaks "fiduciary"
A Victory for Climate Security Datelined 2036
In what ways does it work or not work? What new idea interests you? What would you do instead?
There is information and perhaps solutions in all those answers. Consider how these findings land and how that might inform your own “theory of change” based on an unambiguous outcome of a desired future.
As a reminder, ‘backcasting’ is an unscientific exploration of how you would run the world. In a “safe space” brainstorm, nothing is off limits. However, if you’re goal is to sell these ideas within a stuck status quo, it helps if the ideas and innovative solutions ring as credible. Our findings may or may not succeed, but they do go in a new direction.
The ideas are based on the tools we have on hand: The potential of fiduciary money, in particular, as a values-driven 21st Century civic model that can work in the aggregate at the scale of climate (with the purchasing power buy 420 BPs at today’s market cap).
In puzzling out how BP, in particular, could actually reach the outcome of being an “integrated energy company”, we found:
BP is stuck in an obsolete societal architecture. Change the architecture
In a review of how society is put together, most of us look to government (or nation states) and enterprise (industries and markets) for climate leadership, when neither has the DNA to do it. They are ethically compromised by growth imperatives that clash with moral imperatives. Our civil society social order tells us that.
With 70 years of stern science warnings and mounting evidence, no amount of protest seems to increase funding, improve policy, enforce laws or collaborate for a global common good. Rather, it is more logical to consider how a protracted climate impasse is better for government and enterprise than a climate response. Nature, meanwhile, is alarmingly limited based on the current social structures with which we live.
This is information. The obsolete, but prevailing, societal architecture anoints government and enterprise the power of leadership and that means the control of how money moves in society. That underplays the social decision-making power of money, its different types and its unique role for change.
This is a big idea. Money is everywhere already. We’re giving an explicit, rules-based social structure that it does not have presently. For example, money is not one type but, at least, six types – each with a different set of social motivations.
This makes visible fiduciary money that is worth tens of trillions, is pegged to a future promise of dignified retirements and has the legal duty to act in ways to preserve that promise. By extension, that money is used to preserve the climate into which beneficiaries will retire decades away.
Presently, fiduciary money is put to “nonfiduciary” use by government and industry and is not doing what it was designed to do – to steward a future. This matters because of the scale of fiduciary money. There is more money in global retirement accounts than anything else operating in our current economy. It has unmet social power that could impact how we pay for climate security.
What does this do?
In our model, created by backcasting from a desired future, a majority of global money moves differently. For many of us, the neoliberal status quo of corporatized government, dark money influence and growth-centric, extractive enterprise causes a cognitive dissonance with how we want to live in the environment and for the future. Money is often the villain, but money is as necessary to us as other basic needs we can’t procure otherwise. Money could be the hero if it moved as it was designed.
In our model, there would be a place for government and industry, but they would be right-sized by the introduction of money and finance as a social structure to work with, rather than a tool for creating growth. The role of civil society is amplified.
Lastly, this fiduciary model makes best use of money’s unique characteristics of Scale, Duty and Time.
Theories and Discussion
This paper is not about concluding a thought. Rather, we are working to inspire new ideas. In the status quo, we leave the problem-solving in the hands of the problem markers. This paper asks us to consider alternative problem solvers, regardless of what the status quo dictates. Through this creative exercise, we:
Added a new social structure that speaks specifically to energy ethics – with the tools at hand
Defined a dedicated finance channel that has the scale to change the energy ethics narrative
Introduced a non-traditional climate hero who has the mission, duty and scale to improve energy ethics
Highlighted a finance partner for BP CEO Looney and others struggling with the status quo’s limitations
Envisioned a future not tied to the obstacles of the status quo
Given you something to think about… hopefully. Consider joining our conversation. Thank you. firstname.lastname@example.org