EnvironmentSmith School of Enterprise and the Environment41Chapter 7: SummaryChapter 7SummaryThe challenges raised by climate change are manifold and substantial. Reducing GHG emissions and deforestation are now issues of the greatest urgency. Defossilising national economies over the coming four or five decades is less of a technological issue - there are many solutions, and many more will be developed - than a behavioural, social and political challenge. There is much inbuilt social inertia in meeting these, but the challenges are also major opportunities for innovation and improved human well being. The Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 was a major turning point in action on climate change. In an ideal world, the major global powers - the US, China and the EU - would have provided leadership to the UNFCCC process, and a global deal would have been achievable. In the absence of this, the challenge is now being met through unilateral commitments, initiated prior to Copenhagen but massively extended through the Accord, and now integrated into the UNFCCC process in Cancun. The UNFCCC process will continue to be a vital component of action as we move on. It will act to verify and legitimise the actions of individual nations, and is an important sounding board, where the voices of small nations and of less developed nations can be heard. It also acts to galvanise public and political opinion. Strong decisive steps are needed from governments to place a long term price on GHG emissions. This will signal to the corporate sector that they are dealing with climate change seriously, and stimulate appropriate participation from that sector. The potential profitability of moving to a green economy cannot be stressed enough, but it does need a price on the emission of GHGs to stimulate action in the market place. Global equity is central to the debate. A cap and trade system based on a per capita emissions target by mid-century is a potential way of generating financial flows from developed nations to the least developed world, creating incentives for local decision making. It is important to note that the world is now engaged in solving the challenges of climate change as never before. Nations have a more realistic idea of what is actually involved in taking action. Major developments are taking place. Action is now required at the individual country level to increase their emissions reduction comitments. A new sense of urgency needs to be injected into the negotiation process.
42Smith School of Enterprise and the EnvironmentSmith