Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 at COP21- DAY ONE

Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 at COP21- DAY ONE
December 8, 2015 Bradley Cox

While representatives from 195 countries toil over the wording for what is being referred to as the “Paris Draft”, business and innovation leaders are meeting at the Sustainable Innovation Forum at Stade de France as part of COP21.

There are already some strong themes and atmospherics floating through the forum. The Conference of the Partners to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (to give it its full name) is bubbling with a more “bottom up” rather than “top down” approach of past meetings. To get the 195 countries to agree on a truly global framework to tackle climate change, and halt global warming at under 2 degrees celcius, the language is being crafted to be as inclusive as possible.

The heavy lifting required to meet this significant goal is being left to the countries to individually decide based on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. These INDCs are the actual climate action plans and, following on with the conference’s “bottom up” approach, major cites and businesses in these countries have been identified as the change agents to make it all happen.

The villains are of course the greenhouse gases that have undeniably led to climate change. The main contributors to GHGs are electricity & heat production 25%, agriculture and land use 24%, industry 21%, transportation 14%, building 6% and other energy 10% (Source: IPCC (2014).

Corporate delegates are positive that their own initiatives, along with consumer support, can lead to achieving the GHG reduction targets that their countries have committed to. One of the United States largest labelling companies, Avery Dennison, has found consumer demand extremely high for ‘green’ products and the majority of their paper products, 66%, are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. While the company acknowledges additional costs for FSC certification, the demand and robust sales makes their sustainable approach a profitable one.

Cities across Europe are also moving quickly to meet ‘green’ demand. Oslo, the capital of Norway, has followed its citizens preference for cleaner, greener cities and now banned individual car transportation from downtown. The Oslo Vice Major, who recently won office on a green ticket, was quick to point out that resistance to change was quickly overcome with the benefits of a much more liveable city out-weighing opposition. Oslo has also installed over 1000 EV charging stations around the city to meet the needs of electric vehicles that now account for 30% of all cars; in fact Norway has the biggest fleet of Tesla vehicles in the world.

The last word today has to go to Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, a country that runs on 100% green electricity. During his presentation President Grímsson was keen to promote his country’s leading tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon an extensive hot spring bath that is internationally famous. Such is the beauty of this attraction that the Blue Lagoon was voted one of National Geographic’s top 25 tourist destinations in the world. With much pride President Grímsson pointed out that the other 24 destinations were all created by mother nature, where his much loved Blue Lagoon was created by an accidental spill from a geothermal energy plant … now that has to be a win-win for sustainable tourism.

Bradley Cox
Director of Communications