Each Year of Delay Makes Failure More Expensive & Harder to Avoid

Each Year of Delay Makes Failure More Expensive & Harder to Avoid

GreenBiz reports that the vast majority of US business
executives in a recent survey – 83% — view a multi-lateral climate change
agreement as a prerequisite to address the issue, but just 13% believe it will
happen in Durban — or anytime soon. Sad, but true. And the UK’s Guardian
newspaper says in an editorial that the will to act on climate change is out of
political energy, running on empty. But inaction is not an option.

Editorial in The Guardian (25 November 2011):

The will to act on climate change is out of political
energy, running on empty. The problem is (relatively) distant, complex and
intractable. The solution is costly, immediate, and the gains uncertain. It is
the kind of slow-burn crisis that democratic politicians only tackle under
sustained popular pressure and right now western voters have other things on
their minds. Here, the government that promised to be the greenest ever is
allowing emission-cutting policies to appear an indulgent hangover from a more
prosperous age. Starting on Monday, when the 17th climate change conference
opens in Durban, Africa has the opportunity to remind the rest of us why
inaction is not an option.

Expectations for the summit have already been managed down
so far that the debate now appears to be whether it is better to disagree on
what to do, or to agree to do nothing. Although the energy secretary, Chris
Huhne, insists that he has not given up on reaching a deal that could be
implemented from 2016, the EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, sounds
much less positive. She insists nothing is possible unless everyone signs up,
and not on the old north-south terms of the expiring Kyoto agreement which she
argues no longer reflects reality.

In the world in 1998, when the Kyoto deal was struck, the
developed countries were required to cut emissions while the developing
countries – with much lower emissions – were only required to adopt mitigating
measures. Now the Europeans point to the rise of China, Russia and India up the
emissions scale – even the per capita emission figures are beginning to reflect
economic growth – and want the less developed countries to move beyond
mitigation and start to cut emissions.

China – nationally now topping the emissions chart, but
actually dropping down the table of emissions per capita – argues instead for a
new version of Kyoto. But even if progress were possible here, President Barack
Obama, a year away from an election, cannot face down the Republican-controlled
Congress where they think climate activists are a sect dedicated to destroying
the American way of life.

Reduced to numbers, the minimum target should be a date for
peak emissions. Most of the world’s governments have already agreed that, to
avoid disaster, the global temperature rise must be limited to 2ºC. To have an
even chance of success, global emissions will need to start to fall within the
next five years or so. Each year of delay makes failure more expensive and
harder to avoid. This is another stand-off between the strong and the
vulnerable, and there is talk of an Occupy Durban. It needs an objective. Then
the talking can really begin.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk


By Tilde Herrera in Green Biz.Com (17 November 2011):

Is there hope that an international climate change deal will
emerge at the upcoming U.N. negotiations in Durban, South Africa?

Don’t hold your breath, many business leaders might tell

That’s not to say one isn’t needed. The vast majority of
business executives in a recent survey — 83 percent — view a multi-lateral
climate change agreement as a prerequisite to address the issue, but just 13
percent believe it will happen in Durban — or anytime soon.

The down economy complicates the upcoming talks, according
to the new report from Ernst & Young, “Durban Dynamics: Navigating for
progress on climate change.”  The
report offers a nice primer of the contextual backdrop of the negotiations,
which are scheduled to run Nov. 28 through Dec. 9.

One of the major factors that promises to stymie the talks
is the persistently terrible economy. Climate change efforts will suffer as a
result, with the report finding that current austerity measures will leave a
big gap in the amount of funding devoted to mitigation.

The US, for example, will spend about $2 billion less on
climate change efforts between 2011 and 2015, compared to 2010. Overall, 10
large economies tracked in the report will spend $22.5 billion less on climate
change in the coming years than historical levels.

While governments are pulling back on funding, business
leaders are more bullish, the report found. E&Y surveyed more than 300
business executives and found that 88 percent said their sustainability spending
has stayed the same or grown over the past year. More than half indicated that
a climate deal provide lots of opportunities for business, but prospects are

The report also addresses many lingering questions
surrounding the Durban talks, including the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the
existing climate change agreement that ends next year. The US and developing
countries are not bound under Kyoto to reduce their emissions.

E&Y gives a relatively positive spin to the future of
global carbon markets should parties fail to produce a successor to the Kyoto
Protocol. The largest player is the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU
ETS), The world’s biggest cap-and-trade program was created to help European
nations meet their Kyoto commitments.

“Although the prospects of a global carbon deal will
recede in the absence of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol,” the report
said, “carbon trading will continue as long as there is demand and a
market for it.”

Source: www.greenbiz.com

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