Cancun: New climate superheroes?
30 November 2010 -

The Cancún talks began yesterday in air-conditioned conference rooms in five star resort hotels, and already it appears as if politicians will once again fail their global electorate in coming up with anything tangible to curb global warming.

It seems as if the new environmental superhero role might be taken up by global corporations, who are now pushing for more controls on climate change as they see it vital to their own sustainability.  They are trying to do what the politicians have so far failed to do – come up with a new global treaty on tackling climate change.

In mid-November, 259 global investors including major banks, insurance companies and pension funds, representing more than EUR 11 trillion in assets called for definitive action in the fight against global warming.  Although their motivations are not totally altruistic, they may have the power to push governments into coming up with some binding agreements.  Of course, it is these investors who stand to make bundles of money in a cap and trade world, as they themselves say in the Cancún Communiqué: “the lack of a comprehensive international policy framework is a barrier to the development of a global carbon market and, credible national policies, and to the necessary scaling up of investments in low‐carbon technologies.”

Companies may in fact be in the prime position to push forward and urge governments to act.  The Communiqué goes on to mention: “As business leaders, we are used to making decisions on the basis of projected risk and established science, at this point in time we cannot afford to ignore the undeniable impact of climate change on global populations, natural resources, the economy, and on our businesses.”  Corporate leaders like Sir Richard Branson will try to help this process in Cancún, while the newly elected British Prime Minister will pass on the event – and he did not site his carbon footprint as a reason for doing so.