Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 is the year for a strong, unified business voice on climate policy

Paul Simpson in the Guardian's Sustainable business blog: The increasing acceptance of the carbon bubble and stranded assets thesis is the most exciting climate change development of the last year. Although the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) has been propagating the concept for years, the rapid mainstreaming of the idea makes it transformative.

For the first time the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was clear that we have only 15 to 25 years before we bust the 1tn tonne carbon budget. CTI's carbon bubble research goes further and shows that two thirds of fossil fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground.

Investors are paying attention. Norwegian asset manager Storebrand divested from 13 coal and six oil sands companies on this basis. The 350.org divestment campaign has gained traction and investors this year filed record numbers of environmental and social policy resolutions.

Many governments obsessively pursue short term economic gains and re-election to the cost of the environment but the science cannot be ignored. Some nations are making progress. Good news over the last year from China, with steps to reduce pollution and the start of emissions trading. In the US carbon trading is established in California with a price of over $10 and President Obama delivered the Climate Action Plan, probably the most meaningful climate move ever by the White House.

The degree of corporate influence on the shift of these countries' policies warrants a PhD thesis. Our research shows some companies, despite having a sustainability strategy, are still negatively influencing policy indirectly through trade associations, research and political funding. Others are directly blocking policy because they cannot see a future for their business in a sustainable world. To achieve a meaningful deal on climate in 2015, governments must learn to discount their advice.

Businesses that are silent need to speak out and push for government action. We have released, in partnership with UNGC, UNFCCC and others, a guide for companies to ensure responsible climate policy engagement. Transparency on corporate climate lobbying has been increasing; a trend that must endure....

A macro photograph of bubbles in Coca-Cola, shot by Spiff, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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