Speaking Up and Speaking Out

If global temperatures increase “only” 2 degrees, the World Bank estimates that the cost of adaptation with be $75B -$100B per year until 2050.  Whew.  Another speaker at the Global Climate Summit 2 “Adaptation Panel” was Michele de Nevers, the Senior Manager of the Environment Department at The World Bank.  She stated that for developing countries, it is about adaptation.  Unfortunately, they are the recipients of climate change.  Financing adaptation is challenging – it is about compensation and a case of “polluter pays”.   So how much will adaptation cost?  What is the base case?  And what actions do countries need to take?  The cost estimates range  and much work is now occurring on this topic.  And obviously, “who pays” and “how much” will be on the agenda for Copenhagen.

The academic perspective was provided by Dr. Stephen Schneider, Professor at Stanford in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies.    From his perspective, we need to change the way we debate the issues.  The problems we face are not solvable by typical business models.  How many dollars are we going to spend to solve the problems?  There are policies and measures required – especially we need to get the price of carbon right.  He discussed the ‘sequence of the do-able’:

  1. Help developing nations.
  2. Develop performance standards.
  3. Be inventive about solving the problems – use P3s, provide incentives for business and have the courage to act.
  4. Put a shadow price on carbon.

For more info on Dr. Schneider’s work:  visit http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/.

Perhaps the most powerful speaker of the Summit was Dr. Dessima Williams – the Ambassador of Grenada to the UN and the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.  Similarly to Jane Goodall, Dr. Williams began with a “call”.  In her case, it was the Caribbean way of expressing joy and sorrow – the same words but with very different inflection – up at the end for job and down at the end for sorrow.  So we practiced with her.  It was her entrée to talk about speaking up and speaking out.  As small island nations, there is obviously a profound need to address climate adaptation.  So her point is that they need to be far more vocal about their issues and far more active in global negotiations.  She is taking her own advice – she was on her way to the pre-meeting for Copenhagen after the summit to make the point that the target needs to be below 2 degrees – more like 1.5 degrees.   She passionately discussed small island power and the importance of education, training and developing renewable energy.

Next up, opportunities for industry in a carbon-constrained world.

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One Response to Speaking Up and Speaking Out

  1. David McPhee says:

    My concern is that neither North America governments or private industry (read the Alberta tar sands and the traditional auto industry) will not understand the post carbon growth potential of the Asian economy. Rather they are more inclined to fixte on the market growth of North America over the last hundred years and try to repeat it there.

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