Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Thursday, 24 December 2015
L’Accord de Paris est un pacte mondial pour la lutte contre le changement climatique qui fixe les engagements des pays signataires pour 2020 et au-delà. Sera-t-il suffisant pour régler le problème du réchauffement climatique ? En comparaison avec l’échec désastreux de la COP15 à Copenhague il y a 6 ans, il s’agit à première vue d’une réussite ; mais cet accord est-il parfait ?
En décembre 2015, les dirigeants du monde entier se sont réunis pour la plus importante et plus significative conférence de notre histoire, la COP21. Avant ces échanges, les organisations non gouvernementales (ONG), les organisations militantes, les écologistes et les particuliers ont manifesté dans les rues pour protester et insister sur l’urgence de la situation pour aboutir à un accord positif fort.
Pour la première fois dans l’histoire, les délégations de 195 pays se sont engagées pour le changement. Une partie essentielle de cet engagement est de limiter le réchauffement de la planète bien en deçà de 2°C (par rapport aux niveaux préindustriels) et de poursuivre les efforts pour limiter la hausse de température à 1,5°C.
Cet engagement comprendra:
- Un accord universel contraignant et des engagements nationaux, revus tous les cinq ans, vers une société bas carbone
- Les contributions nationales de chaque pays et leurs engagements respectifs
- Un mécanisme financier dédié, dont un volet annuel de 100 milliards de $ d'ici 2020, pour soutenir les actions, particulièrement dans les pays en voie de développement
- Le renforcement de l'engagement de la société civile
L’objectif initial est atteint et en aboutit à un nouvel accord international sur le climat, en prolongement du Protocole de Kyoto, pour rester sous le seuil de 2°C et en tenant compte des besoins et capacités de chaque pays.
Néanmoins le défi est que les mécanismes technologiques, techniques et financiers prévus restent à concrétiser. Mais c’est un départ pour sérieusement traiter le problème du changement climatique et libérer la société de son addiction aux énergies fossiles.
Autres domaines clés abordés:
- Atteindre l’équilibre entre les masses de gaz à effet de serre (GES) émises par les activités humaines et les masses stockées par les puits de carbone (forêts, océans) dans la seconde moitié du siècle. Un mécanisme de revue des contributions nationales et des émissions de GES sera établi. Chaque pays devra fournir un inventaire national de ses émissions de GES afin de permettre de mesurer les progrès accomplis au regard son engagement national
- Des engagements nationaux revus tous les cinq ans afin de procéder à un premier bilan mondial consolidé en 2023
- Les pays développés continuent de montrer la voie en assumant des objectifs de réduction de leurs émissions en chiffres absolus. Ces pays doivent communiquer tous les deux ans les informations qualitatives et quantitatives correspondantes
- Création d'un groupe de travail spécial de l'Accord de Paris et nomination de deux champions de haut niveau auprès de la Présidence de la COP pour accélérer et intensifier l'action sur la période 2016 - 2020
- La nécessité d'éviter et de réduire au maximum les pertes et dommages liés aux effets négatifs du changement climatique, y compris les effets météorologiques extrêmes, en mettant en place des systèmes d'alertes précoces et un mécanisme de provision financière
- L'accord est ouvert à la signature au siège des Nations Unies à New York du 22 Avril 2016 au 21 Avril 2017. Pour une entrée en vigueur en 2020 – en prolongation du Protocole de Kyoto - l'accord devra être ratifié, accepté ou approuvée par au moins 55 pays représentant au moins 55% des émissions mondiales de gaz à effet de serre.
Avec la Loi relative à la Transition Energétique pour la Croissance Verte (LTECV) du 17 Août 2015, la Stratégie Nationale Bas Carbone (SNBC) du 19 Novembre 2015, et à l’occasion de cette COP21, la France a anticipé et s’est fixée plusieurs objectifs sur la période 2015-2028 :
- Réduire les émissions de GES de 40% d'ici 2030, par rapport au niveau de 1990, et de 75% d'ici 2050
- Objectif d’une valeur de la tonne de carbone de 56 € en 2020 et de 100 € en 2030
- Porter à 32% la part des énergies renouvelables dans la consommation énergétique finale en 2030
- Réduire de 50% la consommation énergétique à horizon 2050.
- Réduire de 54% les émissions de GES dans le secteur du bâtiment grâce au déploiement de bâtiments à très basse consommation et à énergie positive, à l’accélération des rénovations énergétiques, à l’éco-conception, etc…
- Réduire de 24% les émissions dans le secteur de l’industrie, de 29% dans les transports, de 12% dans l’agriculture et de 33% dans le secteur de la gestion des déchets
- Suppression des crédits exports pour tous les nouveaux projets de centrale à charbon qui ne sont pas dotés d’un dispositif de capture et de stockage de CO2.
Significativement, on a pu noter au Royaume Uni en particulier, seulement 24 heures après la COP21, que la politique énergétique du Royaume était déjà examinée en détail par les politiciens et les média, une bonne indication de l’effet positif de l’Accord de Paris.
Il nous appartient maintenant à nous tous, professionnels de l’immobilier, et pas seulement aux spécialistes et militants de l’environnement, d’avancer résolument pour obtenir les résultats promis, de rappeler à l’ordre ceux qui ne rendent pas compte, et de maintenir la pression sur ceux qui barrent la route à la révolution pour le climat. Dans le même temps nous devons nous réjouir des succès acquis à l’issue de cette COP21 et nous engager pour notre futur et pour la planète.
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
By Christian Béaur, Director - Sustainable Development and Richard Hillyard, Senior Environmental Consultant, at CBRE
We have a climate change agreement for 2020 and beyond in the Paris Accord. Is this an adequate level of progress needed to seriously tackle the problem of climate change. Compared to 6 years ago and the abject failure in Copenhagen, first glance suggests yes, but is it perfect?
Earlier this month, leaders from around the world gathered for probably the most important and significant international government conferences of our time, COP21. Prior to these talks, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), campaigning organisations, environmentalists and individuals from all over the world took to the streets to protest and generate an atmosphere of urgency for a strong positive agreement to be achieved.
Now, and for the time in history, delegations from 195 countries have committed to change. A core part of this is the commitment to limiting global warming to well below 2° C (above pre-industrial levels) and to pursue efforts further to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This is a highly ambitious, yet committed unilateral agreed target. Today, the world is already heading to a 1°C degree increase in global temperature, limiting it by another half a degree is some target to have agreed.
Nevertheless, this commitment will include:
- A legally binding 5-year review of countries targets, and the ability for them to improve their objectives to work towards a low carbon future
- National contributions by each country and respective engagement
- A dedicated financial mechanism including an annual provision from developed countries of $100 billion, by 2020, to support actions particularly in developing and vulnerable countries
- Strengthening engagement from civil society
There are a few challenges with this, namely that there are no real mechanisms agreed to ensure delivery of this target, just a promise. But this is a start to seriously tackle climate change and, in theory, the beginning of releasing the world from its fossil fuel addiction.
Other key areas discussed:
- Achieve a balance between greenhouse gases emitted by human activities and GHG stored by carbon sinks (forests, oceans) in the second half of the century. A review mechanism of the reported national contributions and GHG emissions will be established. Each country shall provide a national inventory of its GHG emissions to measure progress against its national engagement
- National engagements to be reviewed every five years with a first “global stocktake” to be assessed in 2023
- Developed countries should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emissions reduction targets. Furthermore, they should communicate every two years re: qualitative and quantitative information
- Creating an ad hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement and appointing two high-level champions to act on behalf of the President of the COP to facilitate and intensify action in the period between 2016-2020
- The need to avoid and to minimide the losses and damages associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather effects by implementing early warning systems and a financial provision mechanism
- The agreement shall be opened for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017. For its entry to come into force in 2020 - as an extension of the Kyoto Protocol - the agreement must be ratified, accepted or approved by at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions of greenhouse gases
With its Law on the Energy Transition and Green Growth of August 17, 2015, alongside its National Strategy for Low Carbon (SNBC) of 19 November 2015, and in view of the COP 21, France has anticipated and set several national commitments:
- Reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to the 1990 level, and by a further 75% by 2050
- Aim at a price for carbon of €56 per ton in 2020 and €100 per ton in 2030
- Bring the share of renewable energy consumption in 2030 to 32%
- Reduce the overall energy consumption by 50% in 2050
- Reduce the GHG emissions in the building sector by 54% between the years 2025-2028. This will be achieved through the deployment of buildings with very low consumption or positive energy, and through the acceleration of energy-efficient renovations i.e. eco-design, etc
- Reduce the GHG emissions in the transport sector by 29% in the years 2025 to 2028. Likewise, by 12% in agriculture, 24% in industry and 33% in the waste management sector
- Remove export credits for all new coal power plant projects that are not equipped with carbon capture and sequestration devices
It is evident that Paris and COP 21 is not the end of the road when it comes to climate change. It is the beginning of the next part of our worlds environmental and climate journey. The targets are in place, the leadership of the world is agreed that limiting GHG emissions is critical to success. In fact just 24 hours after COP 21, the UK governments energy policy is already being scrutinised by politicians and media, an early indication of positivity from the Paris talks.
It is now up to us as property professionals, not just the environmentalists, the activists and the sustainability focussed to continue to drive for delivery against promises, hold those who fail to account and keep the pressure on those who stand in the way of climate revolution. At the same time, we need to applaud and celebrate where there have been successes and victories. So let’s embrace Paris and COP 21 to make it work for our future and the planet.
Thursday, 17 December 2015
By Rebecca Pearce
EMEA Head of Sustainability at CBRE
Much has been written about ‘Smart Cities’ in recent years. The concept is simple – better data, better technology and better connectivity will aid the future of sustainable urban growth. Essentially the challenges our cities face today are not new, and will not be dealt with through technology alone. We need our cities to provide shelter and security, food and water. They must be flexible to cope with population increases, urban consolidation and migration and allow space for industry and commerce.
Today, these challenges may require some new tactics to deal with the scale of impacts we face and the pace of change. The sheer number of people in our urban environments – by 2050 the UN predicts the global population will reach 9.6 billion, the majority living in cities – the unpredictability of severe weather events and other climate change issues creates new problems and new solutions. The way we do business is also changing – some estimates predict that 60% of jobs in 2025 do not exist yet, creating new requirements for flexibility and innovation in the built environment. These factors need to be considered from both a proactive perspective – as we plan new communities and re-engineer existing precincts – and a reactive one as we seek to manage, and mitigate risks.
Whilst urban planning theory holds that cities are holistic systems, the nature of property ownership means that issues of sustainability are often addressed one building at a time. Certainly a large proportion of our sustainability services at CBRE involve improving the resource efficiency and environmental impacts of individual buildings, with demand from owners and investors on the rise.
In the European Union an ambitious climate change policy has set targets and legislative frameworks around energy efficiency, emissions reduction and low carbon generation. In turn, this has driven property owners towards “sustainable property” as a means of avoiding obsolescence, adhering to legislation including meeting minimum energy efficiency standards, and ultimately creating competitive advantage.
The former, risk based approach to sustainable property is reflected in a recent EMEA Investor Intentions survey carried out by CBRE – in which 70% of respondents, spanning fund & asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, REITs and private equity or venture capital firms, stated that sustainability is either ‘critical’, ‘one of the most important criteria’, or ‘definitely matters’ in the asset selection process. These results also demonstrate that owners and developers need to improve, and adapt, their existing commercial property to avoid diminishing future investment appeal and transaction value. If realised, a focus on existing buildings could provide extremely effective economy-wide carbon reduction solutions, especially given that 80% of the buildings that will be in existence, or ‘alive’, in 50 years have already been built.
Concurrently, with increasing investor attention, occupiers concerns are increasingly focussed on aspects of sustainable property that directly impact their business. As a result, more importance is placed on attraction and retention of staff and the productivity of the workforce as influenced by their health and wellbeing. These aspects can be influenced by sustainable building features e.g. increased fresh air in ventilation systems, thermal comfort, access to natural lighting and views, quality artificial lighting, all of which need to be balanced with energy efficiency and cost reduction.
The movement toward sustainable property for investors, owners and occupiers is to be commended and encouraged, but we must also acknowledge that city scale problems cannot be solved one building at a time. In any case we cannot rely solely on built environment solutions. We all have our part to play in creating a smarter, more sustainable city, and all stakeholders need to take responsibility to make places for healthy and happy human beings.
The role of urban planners and appropriate governance structures cannot be underestimated. A truly sustainable city can only be achieved through the application of a balanced and holistic approach that responds to the specific environmental and economic circumstances. From a sustainable property perspective this would involve consideration of issues such as:
· Private v public space
· Commercial floor space or the number of housing units v open space and areas for food production
· Resource efficiency v human health and wellbeing
· Shareholder returns v responsibility and long term contribution and
· A budget surplus v government investment in green infrastructure
All city stakeholders, including property investors, owners and occupiers, need to buy in to this process and acknowledge that long term value for society may mean slightly less short term profit for individual enterprises. This is the concept of “shared value”, which also implies shared responsibility and investment as is often demonstrated in the sustainability and corporate responsibility approaches of leading businesses.
Examples of this approach being demonstrated by some of our clients at CBRE include:
· Commercial developers spending extra to construct a sustainable building
· New communities built with fewer dwellings, or less floor space, but incorporating biodiverse green spaces, legacy projects and shared facilities
· Investors prioritising Responsible Property Investment performance when deciding who manages their money and which buildings they invest in
Nevertheless we have a long way to go. To really drive change the property and finance industry needs to develop better ways to assign value to the elements that differentiate a sustainable city, and communicate these effectively to promote uptake and collaboration.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) now mandates that sustainability features are considered in building valuations but we are still a long way from expressing the value differential of a more sustainable building in financial terms. The notion of assigning value to “natural capital” – the natural environment and its available resources – is also increasingly discussed. We need to extend this assessment to include the value of community infrastructure, social benefits and the impact of “the spaces in between” our buildings.
By acknowledging and measuring the benefits of greener buildings and more ‘liveable cities’ we can start to reward those who invest in them and encourage others to do the same.
Friday, 11 December 2015
By Hannah Scott
EMEA Sustainability Coordinator, at CBRE
This is it. We can see the finish line. How likely is it that the long-awaited legally binding, international deal on climate change will be delivered at COP21? Let us reflect on the past two weeks of the Paris climate talks.
A timeline of (key) conference headlines
Day 1: Record breaking numbers in attendance, world leaders make motivational speeches, and Laurent Fabius is elected as president of COP21.
Day 2: France promises Africa €2 billion by 2020, the 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate is launched, and world leaders depart leaving negotiators to do the heavy lifting.
Day 3: The Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation is announced, and the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative is launched.
Day 4: Buildings Day; a day devoted to the built environment. The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction is launched, and it is announced that a draft outcome will be submitted on conference day 6.
Day 5: Education Day; a day devoted to youth and education. The UNFCCC Climate Funding Snapshot, a live climate finance tracker, is launched.
Day 6: The ‘Climate Action 2016’ partnership to aid momentum post-COP21 is announced, astronauts send a message from space, and the first Draft Paris Outcome is released.
Day 7: Laurent Fabius selects his 14 facilitators to help lead discussions in the second “compromise” week of the conference.
Day 8: A $5 billion initiative to expand African renewables is launched, and the first fall in carbon emissions during a period of global economic growth is reported.
Day 9: A “High Ambition Coalition” of more than 100 countries, formed in secrecy six months ago, is revealed.
Day 10: A revised (‘clean’) ‘Draft Paris Outcome’ is presented. Countries share their views in a long, late-night plenary session.
Day 11: A third revision of the ‘Draft Paris Outcome’ is presented at just past 9pm in Paris, with less than 24 scheduled hours of COP21 remaining.
Day 12: It is announced that negotiators aim to wrap up the agreement a day later than expected, but according to Fabius “things are moving in the right direction”.
The last push – what final steps are needed for COP21 to be successful?
Remarkably, the 27-page draft agreement released late last night contains only 50 points of disagreement. This is 889 fewer points of disagreement than those detailed in the first draft, published just 6 days ago. Let’s take a look at how three major issues – discussed previously on the Green Perspective – have progressed.
What is the limit? Finally, we have seen progress! The limit agreed in the latest draft is “well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. A somewhat waffley compromise, but it is progress.
Who is responsible? The current draft agreement takes a heavily differentiated approach. This aims to deliver fair apportionment of responsibility between nations (and is arguably a small miracle!). However the eligibility criteria for countries receiving financial support through the deal remains to be agreed.
Who will pay? Estimates come in a mixed bag but, according to the new UNFCCC Climate Funding Snapshot, pledges may add up to more than previously expected.
Another key question on everyone’s lips; what form will the final document take? Will it be the long-awaited legally-binding treaty, or a weaker international agreement? Despite the deadline extension, it would seem that the election of Fabius is proving a smart choice. The majority of deadlines have so far been met (a rarity at the UN), and according to Fabius "the atmosphere is good, things are positive" – astonishing, considering negotiators have been at it for 12 days straight, with very little sleep!
A seemingly positive industry response
The influence of the built environment on global warming is well documented and, if the sector is to play its part in limiting global temperature increase to 2°C, it needs to reduce carbon emissions by 84 gigatonnes by 2050. Over the course of the conference, a number of positive outcomes have resulted.
· Launch of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction brings together 18 nations and 60 organisations in a combined effort to build climate resilience into cities and infrastructure.
· Commitment to nZED by the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group. A dozen major companies have announced their intention to prioritise nearly zero energy building (nZED) designs.
· World Green Building Council makes collective commitment for 2050. The WGBC have pledged support for Net Zero status of new builds, and the deep refurbishment of existing stock by 2050.
· A multitude of individual corporate pledges. More than 50 UK Green Building Council members, and 114 international corporates have each committed to carbon reduction targets, which if achieved will deliver a combined saving equivalent to the annual emissions of South Africa.
· 26 major financial institutions to integrate climate considerations. A record number of financial institutions – with combined balance sheets in excess of $11tn – have signed up to the World Bank’s Five Voluntary Principles to Mainstream Climate Action within Financial Institutions.
· The Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition reaches $600 billion. Following the registration of Allianz and ABP, the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition now boasts 25 investors and oversees the decarbonisation of $600 billion in assets under management, surpassing their $100 billion target tremendously.
· More than 500 industry climate solutions publicised. A plethora of corporate success stories have been uploaded to the COP21 Climate Solutions Hub, including the work on greening IT systems by CBRE France.
Positive outcomes of COP21 seem to be coming from all directions and – with less than 48 hours to go – we remain hopeful that everything will go to plan, all 195 parties will sign on the dotted line, and the long-awaited legally binding, international deal on climate change will be delivered on Saturday.
Monday, 7 December 2015
By Ian Joyner
Associate Director, Flood Risk at CBRE
Storm Desmond resulted in significant flooding across the north-west of England over the weekend. Our flood risk lead, Ian Joyner, considers the questions this major event poses for flood risk management experts and, ultimately, those relying on their advice with respect to their homes and businesses.
The extraordinary flooding in Cumbria brought into sharp focus some critical issues in UK flood risk management.
- We saw the on the ground impacts of an extreme flood which some have used to criticise authorities’ previous predictions
- A number of new flood defence systems were overwhelmed raising uncomfortable questions about the public funding and benefit of these schemes
- Although one flood event cannot be attributed to climate change, the frequency of extreme floods appears to be increasing. This is something climate change experts have been warning about for some time, not least the UK’s Committee on Climate Change 
Understandably the focus for the authorities is now on response and recovery. Once the dust has settled, the data from the Environment Agency’s rainfall and river gauging network will help to indicate the rarity of the event we’ve just witnessed. Initial estimates  suggest a 24-hour rainfall total of around 340mm was reached, surpassing previous highs.
In addition, the storm tracked across some of the most irregular topography in England, adding significantly to the variability of rainfall experienced. Moist air was forced to rise above the Lake District fells where rainfall meets steep rocky slopes and thin soils, running off rapidly into fast-flowing ghylls and becks. Flood estimation (emphasis on ‘estimation’) is a complex science, borne out of years of fastidious data collection on the country’s rivers and streams and decades of academic and industry research. Estimating the impact of an extreme storm is subject to considerable uncertainty but it’s a reasonable assumption, had Storm Desmond not occurred following a thoroughly wet November in the North West, for example, that its impacts would have been less severe.
Much media attention has been wide of the mark, exclaiming that flood defences ‘failed’ or were ‘breached’. In fact, defences in the affected towns appear largely to have held but been ‘overtopped’. This means river levels were higher than the defences were designed for, allowing floodwater to cascade over and affect properties protected behind. This distinction, while considered pedantic to those in the media, is of crucial importance to those managing the response to an event, where the effective management of a flood can be interrupted by the need to respond to a media narrative.
Thankfully, a breach, which could very well have resulted in loss of life, appears to have been avoided. It is also likely that defences delayed the onset of flooding, providing valuable time for people to heed warnings and take action. Ultimately, with flood defences being extremely costly to construct, a line has to be drawn and the need to balance protection against environmental, landscape and visual impact is even more critical in landscapes such as the Lake District. It seems, on this occasion, that homes and businesses flooded are unfortunate victims of an event so large it would not be reasonable, or even possible, to fully prevent. Future effort is perhaps better spent raising awareness of the possibility of these events.
As commentators and the industry come to terms with yet another ‘extreme’ flood hitting the headlines, the evidence for climate change impacts on the frequency of extreme weather gets all the more compelling. When assessing flood risk to property, there is a real need to consider both the sensitivity of flood risk to climate change and the residual risk faced in those places apparently protected behind flood defences.
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
EMEA Sustainability Coordinator, at CBRE
“No conference has ever gathered so many leaders from so many countries ... but never before have the international stakes been so high” – French President Francois Hollande speaking at COP21.
Since leaders first met in Rio in 1992, a series of annual summits have been held in multiple attempts to take international action against climate change. Organised under the banner of the United Nations these are known as Conferences of the Parties, or COPs. Yesterday marked the start of the fortnight-long COP21 climate talks in Paris, and has brought together more world leaders in the same place, at the same time, than ever before. In the months approaching the most anticipated climate summit in history, many have urged for strong action.
Statements by public figures, open letters from business leaders, and record-breaking displays of global activism have each aimed to catch the attention of negotiators. If successful, a long-term global deal will be agreed to tackle human-induced climate change, whilst allowing for continued economic growth and development – arguably the most ambitious international agreement ever proposed.
What’s happened so far?
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was the first attempt to establish legally binding carbon emissions targets, however these applied only to wealthy countries accounting for a mere 11% of global emissions, and didn't require China – the heaviest polluter – to reduce its emissions at all. The next big push came in 2009 at COP15 in Copenhagen, but sadly no agreement was made. Then in 2011 at COP17, with the unmet 2012 Kyoto deadline fast approaching, leaders pledged to reach a global deal on climate change by close of 2015.
COP21 is already looking more promising than COP15. Prior to the Paris talks, 180 national plans representing approximately 93% of global emissions were submitted. If implemented, these are predicted to limit temperature rise to approximately 3.6°C, reduced from the previously predicted 5°C. Although this is progress, it's not enough to keep within the agreed critical limit of 2°C and further agreements will likely be needed. Countries have therefore provisionally agreed to review any actions that result from COP21 every 5 years, to be confirmed.
Likely topics for debate
What is the limit? The UN-endorsed temperature rise target of 2°C has come under fire by more than 100 vulnerable countries, who are calling for a tougher 1.5°C target.
Who is responsible? Developing nations argue that industrialised countries should be doing more, having polluted for longer. Richer countries argue that emerging economies should be held more accountable.
Who will pay? Who will help poorer countries do their bit? One of the few outcomes of COP15 was a pledge to provide $100bn in annual support to poor countries from 2020; how this is to be funded and distributed is yet to be debated. Some nations argue that more needs to be delivered and (unsurprisingly) wealthier governments are reluctant to commit resources so far in advance.
Will there be success?
Fingers crossed. Critics would argue that more than two decades of negotiation deadlock offer little or no hope, but let's drill down on the positives:
Look to past successes. The 1989 Montreal Protocol. The small matter of a hole in the ozone layer and international governments worked together (pretty quickly) to rectify it. Collectively, we stopped using the destructive gases that had caused the hole and today, the hole is healing. The challenge of climate change may be a far greater but its proof that governments are capable of addressing global climate issues through international action.
We live and we learn. At COP15 countries shared national commitments very late in the game and in some cases not at all. Countries felt pressured to agree to policies they were not able to deliver. In a bid to learn from past mistakes, countries have been urged to communicate their intentions well ahead of the conference. This alternative ‘bottom-up’ approach has been designed to establish collective ambition, where countries are encouraged to stay within safe bounds.
Global displays of humanity. If recent events show us anything, it’s that nations can stand together in support of humanity. On the opening morning of the conference, both Presidents Obama and Hollande made reference to the relationship between combating climate change and fighting terrorism. Each identified the common goal in creating a safe, secure world for future generations.
COP21 will not be the one-stop-solution to climate change. Subsequent action will be required at all levels of government and, as technologies and knowledge develops, there will be a need to review and adapt the appropriate global response. Over time it is anticipated that commitments will be strengthened, but in reality the immediate outcome may be a messy compromise. Whatever is decided, let us hope that it is the most ambitious, fair, and appropriately apportioned messy compromise possible. Watch this space.