This post appeared on 9 December 2015 on the RANE Network https://www.ranenetwork.com/rane-blog/the-paris-agreement-a-not-bad-outcome-compels-corporate-action/
As the Paris Climate Talks enter the final frenzied hours attempting to come to an agreement about mitigation targets for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, how to finance needed mitigation and adaptation to meet those targets, and what to do with loss and damage from unavoidable climate change, I reflect on three important and timely elements of COP21 related to the corporate sector:
- Business does not fit in much to the agreement. In the 28 page draft, the private sector is mentioned 11 times, mostly as it relates to access to capital. And while carbon pricing is mentioned a few times, along with euphemisms for international emissions trading, the document is likely to remain silent on the word “market” through its finalization.
- Good progress on both national commitments and an international agreement is being made. Although the most zealous climate mitigators continue to call for a 1.5 degree Celsius target (versus the two degree target that COP21 ostensibly called for), this may not be in climate mitigators best interest. Those in the know suggest that a “not bad” outcome will be less likely to die upon return to each national government. Thus, ironically, those who want to kill the Paris Agreement may also be want this ambitious outcome, which would no doubt die upon return to Washington, New Delhi and other climate-agreement tenuous capitals.
- While the lead up to COP21, and the discussions for the last two weeks, have created the foundation of an agreement with national targets and plans, for business, from 2016 onward, the point will be delivering on the low carbon pathways discussed and committed to here. Corporate innovation, influence, political will and finance will move us forward to a climate-abled future.
This is why, while the world will debate the merit of the diplomatic outcome of COP21, we are positive about Paris’ conclusions.