In only 51 days world leaders will convene in Copenhagen to agree a global framework to reduce carbon emissions to a level where our climate can be stabilized. This is a successor to the Kyoto protocol which expires in 2012 – not that many countries met their targets for that agreement. This time it has to be different. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) our global emissions must peak by no later than 2015 and reduce by 80 – 85% by 2050 if we are to have any hope to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Personally, I think the worst result from Copenhagen is a null return, a fudge. It would obviously be the worst result for the environment in the long run but it would also hurt business in the short run. Most business leaders already understand that CO2 emissions are a significant risk to the sustainability of their business but they lack the regulatory certainty & incentives necessary to begin to deal with the problem. So a null return means more uncertainty, and continued uncertainty about the future cost of carbon is bad for business.
If governments would agree a global target that shares the burden fairly and we take a market approach to abatement (and by that I mean cap & trade systems) we would surely see our entire economic base transform. A wave of innovation for cleaner technology, information technology, alternative energy and dematerialization would emerge quickly to transform current business models. Even older business models would become more efficient as new incentives are offered to encourage energy efficiency in existing business processes.
Nicholas Stern once said that climate change was the world’s largest market failure which maybe in fact only half the truth. Its also a huge political failure. But both politics and markets can fix the problem more quickly than you might imagine. However first we have to have a sound political deal in Copenhagen in 51 days from now.
You can do your part. Please sign the petition at Hopenhagen.org calling on global leaders to ‘seal the deal’ in Copenhagen. Please watch the embedded video in this of IPCC Chairman R Pachurai’s address to Hopenhagen (click on ‘Download Media’ in the top right of your screen). To paraphrase him – at the end of the day in a democracy leaders can only lead with the support of the people. Its time to show your leader the support they need in order to make the right decision in Hopenhagen.