The Cancun Climate Talks A Success, Inside and Out!
The Cancun climate negotiations resulted in a successful agreement among governments, defying conventional wisdom, which was already writing off the UN climate process for good. Yet the government negotiators and their new Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, together delivered real progress, enabling forward movement by governments, and providing the critical initial signals to business that it’s time to accelerate action.
This is great news for anyone – because anything that can help drive emissions reductions is good for our security, stability, health, safety, and economic opportunity. This accord is particularly good news for the private sector which has been eagerly awaiting government leadership to accompany business leadership moving forward on investing in the clean technologies that make us more efficient and creates good manufacturing jobs here in the US when we need them most. Business is moving and they have said they won’t wait for governments, but they have been urging governments to act so business can move even faster.
I had the pleasure of being part of two major business gatherings alongside COP16. First, Business for Climate Action 2010 took place on November 29, the opening night of the Cancun talks. Joining the talks’ host President Felipe Calderon and Ms. Figueres, were the CEOs of The Coca-Cola Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, and FEMSA. Together they made very clear there is no “time out for business.” These CEOs want market signals, including a price on carbon, and they are finding cost savings and business advantage in reducing their environmental impacts. They expressed frustration that governments don’t get that this is a great business opportunity, and a chance to recover our economy.
The first inaugural World Climate Summit, December 4-5, hosted over 800 business leaders and included important discussions about solutions and opportunities. The conference issued a clear call to action for business leaders to “Speak up and speak loudly.” During the opening panel on growing the global clean economy, our experts advised us to reconsider what we value. Is it money – right now? Or is it a broader concept of quality of life, opportunity, and security. If so, we must put a price on carbon, we must value nature’s services that underpin our prosperity and stability, and as Mary Robinson and Sir Nicholas Stern reminded us, create a better future and more equitable shared prosperity for all.
In addition, new initiatives were launched individually and collaboratively to rapidly accelerate our building of the global clean economy:
- The Carbon War Room launched the Gigaton Awards, the Oscars of low carbon industry where we recognized the outstanding accomplishments of companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, Nike, 3M, Vodafone, GDF Sues, and Suzlon.
- OPIC will provide at least $300 million in financing for new private equity investment funds that could ultimately invest more than $1 billion in renewable resources projects in emerging market, representing one of the largest initiatives by the U.S. Government to support the international effort to mitigate climate change.
- The Carbon War Room announced the first ever universal energy index for the shipping industry (www.shippingefficiency.org)
- Avoided Deforestation Partners announced a fully approved Voluntary Carbon Standard methodology for avoided deforestation that will enable immediate flow of capital to projects that reduce deforestation rates. A pipeline of projects stands ready, reducing the wait time for such clarity of rules by at least one year if not two. It’s time to mobilize capital to protect forests, and the VCS and Avoided Deforestation Partners are letting us get started immediately.
- Colin Turner of greenTEK ventures announced a $150m Mexico Fund dedicated to climate change mitigation in our host country
- The Prince of Wales Leadership Group on Climate Change reminds us of true leadership, bringing business voices to government, with over 350 companies now signed on to the Cancun Communique, a powerful platform for business to increase their impact.
- Finally, thanks to the leadership of Casas Geo, the World Climate Initiative is a document onto which all participants can sign – as a code of conduct for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, integration of sustainability into core strategy, and leadership to drive change.
We wrapped up with a panel discussion hosted by CNN's Becky Anderson and taped for her show, Earth's Frontiers. President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, and Deutsche Bank Vice Chairman, Caio Koch-Weser, each discussed the science of climate change, the economic opportunities, and the imperative for action. As Program Chair, I'm honored to have been part of this critically important effort: we need business and government to be in much more direct communication: business informs government of what is possible (and it's a lot more than governments think, at much less cost!), and helps to create the political environment conducive to government action. We need more business / government connection, and look forward to enabling much more to happen very soon.
Last Wednesday was a big milestone for people who care about public health and a livable climate. Two utilities announced the planned closure of nine coal plants.Read more ...
Today, in the UK, the world's oldest nuclear power plant shut down.Read more ...
The U.S. led the world in clean energy investment in 2011, but China retained the top spot in the latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index from Ernst & Young.Read more ...
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