Paris Climate Change Mega-Deal

The COP21 Mega-Deal

On the scale of deals to be done, the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris will be massive. At stake is the survival of the planet: everyone will be winners or everyone will be losers. And in the nature of all mega deals, there are some big beasts who will be doing the deal making, with the USA and China taking centre stage.

In the past, these two countries have held-up progress. But at times like this we need to be prepared to rip up history and try something new. From climate policy positions recently announced, it seems that the USA and China are prepared to do so. Barack Obama claimed this week to have fired “the starting gun for an all-out climate push” by demanding carbon emission cuts.

For his part, Li Keqiang has recently promised even deeper emissions cuts and greater reliance on non-fossil fuels than his green energy policy proposed just last year.

It is interesting to compare the approach of these two economic behemoths with that of the UK. David Cameron has promised to push for a strong global climate deal in Paris. Of course, actions speak louder than words.We only have to look to the gap between UK pre-election policy and post-election actions to see how things can unravel.

A rowing back on onshore wind power generation, reduction in green energy feed-in-tariffs and scrapping the zero carbon buildings promise spring to mind.

And in their place? Nothing – bar tumbleweed – and the promise of a “review” at some future point. This week DECC tweeted their praise for Obama’s climate leadership – at least they know where to look for it.

These actions have ramifications, certainly for our ability to combat climate change but also for our ability to invest in sustainable futures. With a slippery approach to green policy making, it is difficult to make the necessary investment in sustainable approaches to business. Thankfully, the best businesses – particularly those in the property sector (and corporates delivering sustainability through property management) – seem to realise that they must show real leadership in sustainability if they are to succeed. Look at Microsoft and BT reducing emissions and saving money by pricing carbon. See General Motors saving a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon and $287m each year through better logistics. Watch as Samsung Construction increases sales profits by responding to consumer demand for green products.

We can only hope that our political leaders adopt a similar approach in Paris if we are to have winners rather than losers.

This article was originally published in CoStar.