Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. If we do not act urgently, we risk leaving future generations with an environment very different to the one we enjoy today.
Despite the challenge, responding to climate change should be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to develop new technologies that will transform existing paradigms of economic growth and enable low-carbon,sustainable development to be pursued.
- All countries, and indeed all companies and individuals must be engaged in responding to climate change. However, the key principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities and the need for developed countries to take the lead - should be respected.
- Already significant efforts are being made in developing countries to contribute to the mitigation of climate change. These efforts, in energy efficiency, reducing deforestation and promoting renewable energy should be applauded and further supported by additional financial and technological resources.
- Putting a price on carbon is already enabling business to take advantage of innovation and to capitalise on the significant benefits of a low-carbon economy.
- Reaching an agreement on long-term cooperative action on climate change requires political will and confidence. Strong leadership at Copenhagen and beyond is required.
THE MITIGATION CHALLENGE
The UNFCCC has the objective of preventing dangerous climate change. Whilst the term “dangerous climate change” is undefined, many, including scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, consider temperature increases of two degrees Celsius as tipping into the category of dangerous climate change due to the significant impacts such warming will have on vulnerable countries and climate-sensitive ecosystems.1 As Sir Nicholas Stern stated in his seminal Review: “Climate change threatens the basic elements of life for people around the world - access to water, food production, health, and use of land and the environment.”2