Bottom up action, rather than top down legislation remained a powerful theme at the second day of the Sustainability Innovation Forum 15. While big businesses and national governments have come in for criticism for their lack of progress on battling climate change, local government and innovative entrepreneurs have been hailed as progressive activists. Confirming that retro remains cool, we are all being asked to embrace the 70s and “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
80% of global emissions and 80% of GDP are generated in the cities of the world, putting them at the coal-face (pardon the expression) of the change toward low carbon liveability. Mayors from Bristol, UK and Adelaide, Australia, have both been battling the u-turning climate policies of their respective national governments. However both cities have been celebrated for their commitment to become their countries’ first carbon neutral municipalities and are actively offering assistance and incentive to citizens and businesses to achieve this lofty goal.
Representatives of world cities named “Heroes” of COP 21
Local governments in our precious tourism destinations need to take heed of this new movement to localise the global fight against climate change, as their people become increasing mobilised around protecting their homes from pollution and extreme weather events. And businesses in these destinations, particularly Green Globe certified businesses, need to be aware that not only their guests, but also investors are making critical decisions based on enterprises that can prove their green credentials.
Mindy S. Lubber, President of CERES, an investment group holding $13 trillion in assets, has found that money flows to companies who adhere to a clear set of standards, which document sustainable practices. These types of companies are seen as long-term thinkers, who are acting today and have sustainability integrated from the boardroom, through managers and employees to the supply chain.
California was highlighted as having both progressive cities and enterprises that together successfully drive a thriving economy based on innovation and sustainable values. This US state is the world’s eighth largest economy, and has mobilised its cities to reduce GHG by 80%, while their cap and trade carbon scheme has generated $2.5 billion in emission reduction trades.
Green business is now mainstream economic driver
US Secretary of Energy, Dr Ernest Moniz pointed out that ‘green business’ is no longer a subset of the mainstream economy, but a financial driver. The US now employees 175,000 people in the solar industry, which the Secretary pointed out is exponentially greater than all those employed by the iconic auto-industry.
Meanwhile the inside word from the negotiators at COP21 is that so far there are “no major blockers” in the countdown to finalise a new draft agreement on combating climate change. The hope is that in the next day or two this global accord will be delivered. While potential hidden problems in the draft are being uncovered and resolved, one of the main obstacles will be the commitment of developed nations to deliver, from 2020, $100 billion per year to poor countries to battle climate change and move along a “low carbon pathway” of development.
Down to earth message from high flyer
The last word of the day goes to Bertrand Piccard, owner and pilot of Solar Impulse, the solar powered aeroplane currently circumnavigating the globe. Bertrand is certainly an air-flight pioneer, but his message was much more down to earth. Looking at our lives today, the French aeronaut, claims we are living in societies stuck in the early 1900s. He points out that we still rely on the internal combustion engine for transportation, use incandescent light bulbs for light, and live in houses with poor or no insulation.
Bertrand claims that the combined energy inefficiencies and leakages accumulated from living in the past, accounts for half of the world’s GHG emitted by electricity generation and use. His solution is a simple one: Don’t wait! Cut this pollution in half by completely engaging and deploying the innovative technologies we have today.