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Hey, I’ve got something we need to talk about - but I don’t want anyone to hear

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By Brad Zarnett, Ian Kaplan

· 4 min read

Science confirms that the planet is rapidly heating and the frequency of climate impacts is accelerating. We’re now experiencing those 1 in 100-year floods, forest fires and droughts every year or two (“tail risks”). What’s even more frightening is that the next wave of 1 in 100-year storms will be more massive than anything we’ve ever seen, and with ecosystem degradation accelerating, those new impacts will quickly become our annual reality. Insurance, Investments, Pensions and Banking cannot survive in that reality, and without these 4 pillars of our economic system we will almost certainly move towards mass insolvency. And from there it’s just a stone's throw away from planetary insolvency (as referenced in the 2024 "Climate Scorpion" report). Words like retirement, travel, dream home, and inheritance will be replaced with words like climate-induced structural inflation, insecure housing, widespread crop failure, water shortages, sacrifice zones and mass migration.

Hushed tones

The stark reality is that we’re not doing nearly enough to change course. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise; the mainstream has filled our screens with a painless narrative which makes it nearly impossible for forward-thinking business people to dig deeper and seek out difficult and increasingly urgent conversations. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to hear any meaningful dialogue at a mainstream event - like how incredibly close we are to widespread economic insolvency. You don’t hear about it because those conversations are still considered too risky to hold in public settings, so they’re being discussed in hushed tones in a corner with just 1 or 2 trusted associates where they can feel safe to share their unfiltered beliefs. This type of fear is a recipe for a heroic failure, and the proof of this failure is just how close we are to planetary insolvency.

A safe place

In recent conversations with influential leaders from the banking, insurance, pension, and investment sectors, they told us about their frustrations about not being able to reach beyond their siloed group. They want more. They want a broader engagement of these pressing issues. They want a “safe” place to remove the self-imposed muzzles and have frank discussions about how to strategize for these looming climate challenges, not only for their industry but also for their own precarious employment futures and, for some, their legacies. And yet, despite the consensus regarding the urgent need for these conversations about the extreme risks and threats to solvency, there's still an understandable wariness about straying too far from the accepted narrative and risking personal or professional ridicule that could damage their reputation. And therein lies the problem; as the world exists today, discussing these “extreme” scenarios at “pro-green-growth” mainstream events is not worth the risk.

Insolvency - The real threat

What does exist today are “safe” discussions at mainstream events that explore the current climate threats and how to address them. How to prepare for new and more intense climate destruction. And how we can learn from our mistakes and rebuild better. Of course, this assumes that there will still be a foundation to build upon, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

For many leaders these discussions don’t go far enough. They’re craving something more. A safe place to engage with how to prepare for a new reality - the arrival of and the rapid increase in the severity of “tail risks'' that threaten us with widespread insolvency. And while they’re exploring that difficult question, they will also have the perfect network to deal with something even more complicated:

How can the 4 financial sectors (Insurance, Banking, Pensions and Investing) - which all play a foundational role in our economic system - continue to expand and grow when their very success, ironically enough, is also the greatest threat to their own continued viability? That is to say, they provide the fuel that enables businesses to engage in business activity, which is causing the breach of climate tipping points and environmental limits and resulting in planetary insolvency. And once that foundation is broken, there won’t be a place from which to rebuild better.

The Scorpion’s Tail Club: The Solution

Until now there hasn’t been a safe place for these discreet and urgent conversations. To address this need, Climobilize is launching “The Scorpion's Tail Club” - an exclusive by-invite-only forum, operating under Chatham House rules. Here, financial leaders can safely interact through a series of high-level members-only events (and action-oriented working groups) and engage in these important discussions - discreetly and candidly.

The events will provide Club members with a “seat at the table” as they work towards a unified stance on policy direction and then follow up with concrete steps, including the preparation of position papers along with the supporting legislation. These papers will include analyses of challenges, opportunities, potential opponents and how to overcome or neutralize their objections. The beauty of this approach is that it not only fills a pressing need but also ensures confidentiality, allowing members to talk freely without the risk of potential damage to their personal reputation or business credibility.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the authors

Brad Zarnett is the Co-Founder of Climobilize and the creator of The Scorpion's Tail Club. His mission is to help catalyze a change in the conditions for economic growth away from "profits at all costs", and towards "sustainable profits" achieved within global environmental limits, to ensure "planetary solvency". Brad manages a Substack Community, and can be found on LinkedIn and X/Twitter.

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Ian Kaplan is the Founder of TheClimateSavers and the Co-founder of the Climate Awareness and Policy Change Group (CAPCG). He is an executive entrepreneur at heart with significant experience in the startup ecosystem, including the fields of climate change, renewable energy, fintech/insurtech, and digital health. He is passionate about ventures that aim to improve the health of our environment and our community.

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