I went to check out the conversation surrounding the UN signature event, which itself was enough of a scrum that I didn't even attempt to attend; I'm disappointed I missed Leonardo DiCaprio's remarks. I was, however, invited to a "high-level luncheon" where I had the surreal experience of eating sea bass one table over from Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, who earlier had frowned, back turned, as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made jokes about hosting the world's elite. This is the diplomatic circus as usual: handshakes, grand pronouncements from one powerful person to a room full of other powerful people, early afternoon wine.
Many developing nations not only face outsized exposure to the deleterious effects—food security, natural disasters, weather shifts—of climate change, but they also are now working to grow without being able to rely on significant investment support from wealthier nations while also being urged to avoid the cheap fossil fuel-based infrastructure the world's leading nations built themselves upon. (That the finance world has ignored the monetary risks of climate change is hardly a new idea; last year the World Bank warned that the "carbon bubble" could tank the world economy.)
"We are on the brink of an enormous climate wealth, but the proponents of this climate wealth are invariably small and poor."
"We are on the brink of an enormous climate wealth, but the proponents of this climate wealth are invariably small and poor," Razzouk said. "If you're small and poor, you need technical innovation and you need a cost of capital that allows you to compete. Hopefully all of these agreements, the Paris Agreement, the work done by the UN global compact, will crystallize a picture primarily for Wall Street, which at the end of the day is $150 trillion of capital that needs to go to the right places but is still primarily in the wrong places."Even if weaning ourselves off carbon means massive and dramatic shifts in how the world does its business, it does not mean that people can't get rich off the carbon economy. Both Razzouk and Anne Stausboll, the CEO of CALPers, the massive Californian investment fund that has had a major influence in the carbon divestment movement and climate financing, said that sustainable infrastructure development will be worth at least a trillion dollars a year for years to come.