On the surface, it may seem like the UN Climate Summit, put together by the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, did not accomplish a thing. There were no sweeping decisions made, no laws were enacted, no treaties signed. There was not even an official agreement to speak of. But, despite that, the summit left a lot of people in the environmental policy world feeling optimistic about the future of our planet.
The summit was not much more than 120 world leaders making speeches. One after another, leaders from countries both large and small made four minute speeches about climate change. That was it. There was not even any discussion (until later sessions) allowed. Just one speech followed by the next until all 120 leaders had spoken. Big names like President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attended the conference and spoke. In many ways, what they had to say was the most interesting and the most influential.
President Obama urged China, currently the world’s greatest producer of greenhouse gas and home to many of the top ten cities with the worst air quality in the world, to show leadership and take a firm stand on policies that would slow the production of greenhouse gases in their nation. Zhang, who has been notoriously slow to step up to the plate on these issues, made a clear statement that China would have data released about, and a date set for, their peak emissions. This is interesting and important because once they have reached their peak, the production will begin to slow. It is impossible to expect China to just suddenly decrease their emissions by 50% or even 10%, it is going to be a process. But, from the looks of it, this process has begun.
In later sessions, business leaders also answered the call to protect the environment. Many big banks and other financial firms pledged to support green, low-carbon investment opportunities to the tune of 200 billion dollars in the coming year. That means that anyone looking to get a share of that huge amount of money will have to follow strict green guidlines throughout their processes. Financial incentives always motivate change and if these institutions live up to their words, and they should, there are 200 billion reasons to start making businesses green.
from Danny Yehia http://ift.tt/1ncR0qn