Boiling like frogs in the bath
THE OASIS: Fresh thinking on climate change
IT’S hard to imagine that anything sustainably substantial will come out of this year’s Cop17 (Conference of the Parties on climate change). This assumption is based on the fact that this will be the 17th attempt to reach agreement and that climate change remains a heavily heated issue with much to be done by way of solution.
Basically, if things continue the way they are with regards to industry practice and global carbon emissions, we will all be cooked within the next 20 years.
Only acting after the shit squarely hits the fan and the sea levels are on our doorsteps, seems to be the consistent tale of humanity. It is known that if you place a frog in a tub and gradually increase the temperature, the frog will not react until it quite literally boils alive.
We have come a long way since evolving from amphibian-hood and we are better equipped with knowledge and technology than we have ever been before. Let’s hope to hell that this year a real plan of action will be set in motion at Cop17. We need fresh thinking around climate change. Our lives may depend on it.
Fresh thinking on climate change
One of the central issues regarding combating climate change is that big, profit-driven businesses are often reluctant to reduce their carbon emissions if this means a reduction in profits.
But increasingly some big business is coming around to the necessity for change. This year more than 300 businesses have signed the The 2°C Challenge – a document that the Corporate Leaders Network for Climate Action – calling on governments to break the deadlock at Cop17 and reach agreement. Governments must decide how to divide up the carbon budget available to us if we want to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees (a target agreed at the last COP held in Cancun).
Obviously some countries are in a stickier position than others and this will mean a sweaty slap in the face of economic growth for many. Countries and business need to get a lot more creative if they want to find alternative ways to grow without destroying the planet.
Frustratingly, green technologies, in general, are not yet cheap enough for mass use. Older technology – specifically power-generating technologies, are still being pawned off to poorer countries such as South Africa, which puts them firmly in the category of “high carbon emitters.” Then there is the painful attitude of those who plead ignorance and deny that global warming is a scientific reality.
Perhaps what is needed is greater incentive to go green. For one, the country of Bhutan for example is one of the only countries on Earth that is actually a carbon sink. Not only that, but Bhutan’s major export is hydro-electric power. Surely such a role model to the world should be praised and rewarded?
By the same token, businesses of all shapes and sizes should not only aim to meet their new carbon budgets, but be given the incentive to go further – greater rewards for being greener than thy neighbour. But then of course there is the issue of where reward funding would come from.
It will be interesting to hear what businesses themselves have to say on such matters and what some of them aim to do in the coming decades. I’m sure we can expect a lot of PR speak and lobbyist chatter at Cop17, but much of it is likely to be interesting.
Fresh thinking on climate change
One to watch is the discussions that are set to take place at the Fresh Thinking Oasis. This will be convened by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership – the organisation behind the Corporate Leaders Network for Climate Action. The CPSL is also widely acknowledged to be a champion of progressive international business when it comes to sustainability issues.
While the world’s governments sweat it out next door around the negotiating table, the folk at the Oasis will be hoping to generate some fresh thinking on the old challenges in a more relaxed environment.
- To keep up to date with all the events and programmes planned for Fresh Thinking Oasis at Cop17, follow @CPSL_SA on Twitter or “like” the CPSL Cop17 Fresh Thinking Oasis Facebook page. More information is also available at www.cpsl.cam.ac.uk
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