This article is sponsored by Deloitte.
The science is clear that the climate crisis is real and caused by humans, but many continue to debate about how to best respond to it . Even among those committed to taking action, there are a wide range of divergent belief systems — or worldviews — that shape and color the way people approach the issues.
Many people aren’t rational actors — they don’t access all available information, carefully and dispassionately weigh the facts and arrive at a clear course of action. More often, people start from an existing worldview and gravitate toward information and solutions that align with that overarching perspective.
In the development of Deloitte’s recent report Act Now: Future Scenarios and the Case for Equitable Climate Action, the Monitor Institute by Deloitte interviewed a diverse group of more than 100 public, private and social sector leaders from across the globe to explore their perspectives on the future of climate action and its interrelation with equity. Drawing on the insights from these interviews and a deep scan of existing research, the report aims to help leaders across sectors understand the range of divergent futures that could transpire over the next decade and consider how they can take more robust and equitable climate action today.
The work also identified a clear set of predominant worldviews about climate action and climate equity:
These kinds of worldviews are particularly useful as prisms to help us gain perspective on the way climate change is viewed today and to understand people’s attitudes and actions over the course of the next decade. Each worldview sees climate change and the subsequent implications for equity through a different lens. A "Techno-optimist," for example, might want to focus on funding moonshot technologies and innovation, while someone with a "Green Mobilization" worldview would prefer to support grassroots community organizing and coalition building.
It’s important to note that these worldviews are not mutually exclusive. Many people may hold a combination of several views simultaneously. The set of worldviews aren’t exhaustive of all belief systems that exist and may not be equally "correct” based on the facts, but they each appear to be held in earnest by leaders across a variety of organizations.
It’s also worth noting that the list includes several worldviews — Climate Minimizers, Climate Doomists and Climate Denialists — that, based on our research and conversations, are unproductive or not anchored in an accurate understanding of the science and realities of the climate crisis. They are, however, perspectives that sizable groups of people have gravitated toward. Rather than ignoring them, it’s important to recognize that you will likely interact with these points of view in your work.
While these worldviews may not be a perfect or complete list of all belief systems that exist, they can serve as a valuable starting point. By understanding the different perspectives present within your team, organization or network of partners, leaders can gain a better sense of how to approach, discuss, and begin to act on climate change and climate equity.
Getting clear about 'certainties' and 'uncertainties'
Regardless of what worldview you take, it is also important to understand that there are a set of critical "truths" — or baseline assumptions — that all organizations will need to begin to reckon with in order to make smart choices in the midst of great uncertainty.
Our research identifies a set of 10 baseline assumptions that we have a good degree of certainty about. Together, they form an essential foundation of understanding about what individuals and organizations will need to come to terms with — and hold onto — as you move ahead over the next decade.
Yet even as we gain clarity about some critical assumptions about climate change and its consequences, much more remains unknown. And in the midst of so much uncertainty, how can today’s leaders confront the immense challenge of trying to anticipate future impacts to take necessary, equitable climate actions today?
With both climate equity worldviews and baseline assumptions in mind, Deloitte’s Act Now report leverages scenario planning methodologies to help leaders confront this challenge by helping you understand the current state of climate change and climate equity, imagine divergent ways the future might head, and identify important lessons that can guide organizational decision making moving forward.
So, will technocratic solutions be enough to save the world? Or will business as usual rule the day and crowd out attention on climate and social equity? Will momentum to address climate and equity together finally take off and lead to action that adds up to meaningful progress? Or will the immediate drown out the important and wash away potential equity advances?
The future could head many directions, but taking intentional, equitable climate action can help leaders catalyze systemic change, generate more sustainable value and ultimately create a lasting, positive global impact moving forward.