From 30 November to 11 December, representatives of over 190 countries gather in Paris to reach a global agreement on how to deal with climate change after the expiry of Kyoto Protocol. The talks take place in a city that has been shaken by the November 13 terrorist attacks, under a state of emergency, and high security detail for a COP.
Some say that there is an unprecedented level of commitment: governments, businesses and civil society are aware that these decisions are strategic not only for the health of the planet, but for the global economy.
But caution persists because of the bitter taste of Copenhagen in 2009. Unanswered questions include: will the deal be legally binding? Will it be ambitious enough to keep temperatures increase within 2 degrees?
Nonetheless, two things are clear. Paris is not an end-point, but marks the start of a new phase which will require resources and determination. Any agreement will have to be transposed and translated into relevant policies and supported by national budgets. This will move at different time scales in each country.
We asked experts from a variety of sectors what they expected to see after COP21. We’ll continue to update this during the conference.
“Whatever the outcome in Paris, we need a step change in companies committing to tackling climate change in their own operations and across their supply chains. We have hardwired sustainability into everything we do and are seeing that there is a clear business case. For example, eco-efficiency measures in our factories have saved us over €400m since 2008. Put simply, sustainable behaviour is better for the bottom line and for the planet. There is no excuse not to act.”
Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Unilever. London, UK
“We are committing to five ambitious goals that will help contribute to a low-carbon, sustainable future, and one of these is to use 100% renewable energy by 2035. We’ll run entirely on renewable electricity.”
Michelle Crozier Yates, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Adobe. San Jose, California, USA. We Mean Business Coalition.
“Green Building Councils, their private sector members and government partners have committed to transform the global buildings industry to not only help us reach a 2 degree world tomorrow, but enable us to realise the direct benefits from a new way of building – today. Committing to an area of green buildings twice the size of Singapore over the next five years is just the start – in 10 to 15 years’ time this action will catalyse a green building revolution which will see sustainable buildings become the norm.”
Terri Wills, CEO, World Green Building Council
“The Financial Stability Board is asking the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures to make recommendations for consistent company disclosures that will help financial market participants understand their climate-related risks. Access to high quality financial information will allow market participants and policymakers to understand and better manage those risks, which are likely to grow with time.”
Mark Carney, chair of the Bank of England and the global Financial Stability Board, at the launch of a new Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures to be chaired by former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
“We believe Paris will deliver an agreement. It is likely it will be an agreement that means different things to different people. In reality these different interpretations of its legal status do not matter so long as it is seen to send a clear policy signal. After Paris it is critical that this policy signal is translated into a clear financial signal. Carbon Tracker’s work will be focused on using investment-grade financial analysis to translate the Paris Agreement into such a clear financial signal. We shall be mapping out safe investment pathways for the energy transition required to deliver a climate-secure global energy system.”
Anthony Hobley, CEO, Carbon Brief. London, UK.
“Allianz will stop financing coal-based business models. It will no longer invest in companies that derive more than 30 percent of revenue from coal mining or generate over 30 percent of their energy from coal. Equities amounting to 225 million euros will be divested by March 2016 while bonds amounting to 3.9 billion euros will be expiring.”
Allianz press release, 26 November 2015. Munich, Germany.
“Within the municipalities community, the early adopters have already begun a substantial movement to divest from fossil fuels. In 2013, Seattle became the first city to commit to divesting, followed by Canberra, the first national capital to join the movement. There are now over 500 institutions committed to fossil fuel divestment, a movement representing $3.4 trillion in assets under management. We call our fellow mayors and municipalities representatives to be leaders and divest from fossil fuels.”
Letter to fellow mayors signed by Mark Buijs, Boxtel, the Netherlands; Councilman Seth Yurdin, Providence, RI, US; Kitty Piercy, Eugene, Oregon, USA; George Ferguson, Bristol, UK; Kevin McKeown, Santa Monica, CA USA; Thomas Donegan, Chair, Board Of Selectmen, Provincetown, MA, USA; Brad Pettit, Fremantle, Australia; Robert Doyle, Melbourne, Australia; Charlie Hales, Portland, Oregon, USA; Samantha Ratnam, Councilor, Moreland City, Australia; Raymond Johansen, Oslo, Norway; Councillor Robert Dryden, Cambridge, UK.
Non-profits and civil society
“The after-Paris is just as important as the conference because the outcomes of the negotiations will not offer a miracle solution. There will be much to do without waiting for the implementation of the agreement between 2016 and 2020. Today, countries’ commitments deliver temperature increases of 3 degrees Celsius, while the goal is to stay below 2 degrees. So our current work will continue to ensure that the national commitments will limit temperature increases to 2 degrees by the end of the century, that national plans will integrate climate change considerations, that financial transfers from industrialized countries to developing nations will increase that that citizens will be mobilised on climate issues.”
Aissatou Diouf, Responsible for the Energy Programme, ENDA (Environment and Development Action in the Third World). Dakar, Senegal
“Our campaigns against coal mining, coal-fired power plants, nuclear power and oil drilling in the Arctic will continue. At the same time, we will push for transformational changes at national level, as the huge uptake of renewables we have seen in many countries – including the US and China – will continue. What will definitely be strengthened after Paris is the climate movement. So many organisations have come together for a 100% renewable energy target by 2050. One of the major contributions of the Paris conference has been to bring together people working on environmental, social, ethical and economic issues. This cooperation will continue and become stronger.”
Martin Kaiser, Head of International Climate Politics, Greenpeace International. Berlin, Germany
“It is vital that Paris marks a new beginning in the fight for climate justice, not its end. Many developing countries will require finance to achieve this, so the pressure must be kept on rich countries to increase their support for low carbon development. Oxfam will continue to press for major increases in funding for adaptation and to make sure that it reaches the women and vulnerable communities that need it the most. Outside of the formal UNFCCC process, we can expect continued commitments from private sector actors. We will be calling for the food industry to raise its climate game – both by doing more to cut the sector’s massive emissions and by investing properly in the farmers in their supply chains so that they can better cope with the changing climate.”
Tim Gore, Head of Policy for Food and Climate Change, Oxfam International. Stockholm, Sweden
“Friends of the Earth is more determined than ever to put pressure on governments after Paris to speed up Europe’s inevitable energy transformation. We have already seen victories in key fights across Europe against coal, shale gas and oil exploration, but these are just the beginning. We’ll be working with communities to bring international resistance against dirty energy infrastructure and fossil fuel imports. We’ll be pushing more organisations to divest from fossil fuels and to redirect this money into energy savings and sustainable renewables. We’ll be supporting more people to build climate-safe, democratic, community-owned energy. And we’ll be stepping up our efforts to make Europe do its fair share of climate action by ending Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels now.”
Sonja Meister, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe. Brussels, Belgium
“The Guardian is committed to environmental reporting and 2016 will see us continue to focus on a range of issues connected with climate change, such as ongoing climate talks, finance for developing countries and developments in renewable energy.”
James Randerson, Assistant National News Editor, the Guardian. London, UK
“In a post-Paris world, the focus should be on how we tackle climate change, not why we should. Chinadialogue will be looking closely at China’s attempts to integrate mitigation into economic and industrial policy, urban planning, energy market reform and other sectors, as well as investigating the climate impacts of China’s overseas investments. Given how weak the Paris deal is likely to be, we should focus on lower level but effective policies regardless of the international framework.”
Isabel Hilton, Editor, Chinadialogue. London, UK
“After Paris, we will be working to ensure that the international agreement is fully implemented, for example making sure that a process for reviewing and ramping up ambition is carried out effectively and that reporting is done in a serious and transparent way. We will also be working in and with countries to ensure that national climate plans are implemented and that countries take advantage of the opportunities to increase their mitigation actions to an even greater degree.”
David Waskow, International Climate Director, World Resources Institute. Washington DC, USA
“The focus after Paris must shift to implementation and to a process for reviewing what will become of the promises. Hopefully this will bring the attention on solutions and the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for people’s health and quality of life. While we will evaluate the outcomes in more detail, we are already doing work on many different aspects of the post-2020 climate policy of the European Union, so this will remain a key priority. Naturally, we will also be analysing in which ways the outcomes of Paris might influence both the EU and the German climate policy. We engage in future design of renewables support mechanisms, as well as ways in which German policy can be better integrated in an European context. We see the success of the German policy experiment on moving to a clean and decarbonised future as having significance globally as a “proof concept” for the big transformation to a climate friendly economy.”
Matthias Duwe, Head of Climate, Ecologic Institute. Berlin, Germany
“We will continue helping individual countries and municipalities transform their energy systems, including in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Why the focus on developing countries? Because this is where the development needs are the strongest and the pressure not to embark on a development path dependent on fossil fuels is the greatest. In Haiti, for example, 10% of Gross Domestic Product is squandered on fossil fuels while two thirds of the populations still do not have reliable energy access. In at least four out of five countries worldwide there is now a clear economic argument to move from conventional fuels to renewables and to boost efficiency. There are challenges also in North America and Europe, but the most suffering from today’s unjust, unaffordable, and unsustainable energy system is in the regions less developed.”
Alexander Ochs, Director Climate and Energy Program, Worldwatch Institute. Washington – Berlin.
This article was published on 27 November and more quotes were added on 9 and 10 December 2015.