Yesterday Ban Ki Moon was optimistic about the possibility that a deal would be struck in Copenhagen. Given his position as Secretary General of the United Nations you would hope that this was the case; and perhaps this optimism was not just diplomatic rhetoric but genuine confidence that a deal could be brokered. Elsewhere at the Summit there are other positive rumblings of cooperation. In an unprecedented move, the UK’s Guardian newspaper has orchestrated an historic publication by persuading 56 newspapers in 45 countries to print the same editorial yesterday morning. There even seems to be a strong unified defence from world leaders of the now dubbed “ClimateGate”, where hackers stole millions of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Gordon Brown typified the response by labelling the hackers and associated climate deniers “flat earthers.” To further fuel the optimism, President Obama’s team has changed his arrival at the Summit to coincide with its conclusion, causing people to believe that some sort of deal has already been done.
What would a deal look like? As a global corporate organisation we expect to see credible measurement, reporting and verification of emissions, a robust greenhouse gas market, an appropriate financial framework outlining the commitments each country must make, as well as a host of other policy measures (e.g. the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme in the UK). This is articulated in the Copenhagen Communiqué, an initiative developed by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. It has been signed by over 900 organisations, including Jones Lang LaSalle. The document, while outlining what these climate-conscious businesses demand from Copenhagen, also gives a concise summary of what a successful Copenhagen Agreement might incorporate. The Communiqué believes that the demands, possibly as high as an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is achievable, but accurately state, “The one thing we do not have is time. Delay is not an option.”
In 10 days we will know the outcome of Copenhagen. Perhaps a completed agreement between all parties is unlikely but there is certainly momentum to place the foundations. To borrow part of the shared world editorial, “Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”.