The hoped-for deal on global climate change is in trouble... There have been doubts since the beginning but gaps are starting to widen, particularly with growing accusations that rich countries are failing to deliver. The idea of sustaining global agreement is looking very unlikely at this stage and India’s Environment Minister has called for a serious discussion to establish exactly who is going to give money to the proposed climate fund, and how it is going to be used. As always in political circles, the concepts and slogans are broad and enveloping but the specifics are sadly lacking – a tricky situation given that the Obama administration has only pledged $1.7bn this year and even this sum may be blocked due to growing Republican power in Congress.
However despite the difficulties, Sir Richard Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit has not been dampened. He is aware that governments need to set up the frameworks but he believes business can forge ahead at a much greater pace. He is very keen that businesses do not use governments’ reluctance as an excuse to ignore carbon emissions when there is so much that could be done to increase sustainable bio-fuels and implement fuel-reducing technologies, “Business can be a force for change.”
As a result ‘The Carbon War Room’ has been set up as a global NGO with the aim of finding ways to encourage companies to embrace sustainability. The belief is that environmental sustainability does not have to come at the cost of the economy and Sir Richard has just launched an initiative for the shipping industry at the summit. Www.shippingefficiency.org will provide eco-labelling to show the carbon impact of the world’s 60,000 largest ships so producers and suppliers can choose which ships they use. It is an initiative that –like the Gigaton Awards – will look at building awareness and giving businesses an economic incentive to think green.
Debate is likely to heat up in Mexico tomorrow as discussions will be focusing on proposals to build an even more ambitious $100bn climate fund by 2020... It will be interesting to see where the debate leads and how far things can be pushed. It is likely to be a case of two steps forward one step back...but we will keep you posted!