Monday, 23 September 2013

Waking Up to Climate Change Action

Something extraordinary is happening.

After endless debate about whether climate change is occurring and whether we should think about doing something about it, the conversation has shifted.

After decades of refusal by the largest polluting countries to tackle their greenhouse gas emissions, the policy debate is moving forward.

After years in which climate change was relegated to a few pages in companies' CSR reports, businesses have changed their approach.

At every level of society, people are waking up to the fact that climate change is happening, and recognizing that doing nothing is a losing option for nations, businesses and communities.

The headlines tell the story, in no particular order:
A few themes jump out from these, and many other headlines in the news.

First, the economics of clean energy increasingly make for unlikely bedfellows.  Utilities are arguing against CCS while supposedly "green" political parties are voting in favor of nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing.

Second, serious and respected thinkers are beginning to advocate increasingly desperate measures to address climate change - up to and including radical geoengineering approaches.

Third, the business world is increasingly split on their approach, with one influential group racing ahead to capture the opportunities presented by a lower-carbon economy.

There is an influential, large and ever-growing group of people and organizations that "get it" - they know climate change is a fact of life and are thinking seriously about how to respond.  This is an extraordinary turn of events, and one that will lead to major shifts in how we do business in future.

The message from this steady drumbeat of news headlines is clear.  The need to reduce emissions and tackle climate change is a fact of life, now, not for some point in the hazy future.  Those businesses that have yet to build a robust climate change response into their corporate strategy are missing an opportunity to reduce risk and to build business value.