Live from COP21: Climate Change and the Future of Clean Energy Technology

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JLL’s Dan Probst and Sarah Nicholls are joining world leaders and experts from the private and public sectors at the United Nations climate conference – known as COP21 – in Paris. Check back daily for Dan and Sarah’s live updates throughout the conference.

Greetings from Day 3 at COP21. Overall, optimism remains high that history is being made as countries from around the world move closer to a global agreement. I continue to be amazed at the level of business participation at these events and the number of corporate CEOs (many of them our clients) who are actively participating. It’s fun to hear a CEO talk about the value of converting to LED lighting.

The prevailing belief from the business community here is that a global climate agreement will send a strong market signal that will spawn large increases in the research, development and investment in new technology and products.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (left) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) discuss the future of clean energy at COP21.

The day started on a high note with a discussion with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry moderated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (as shown at right). Secretary Kerry characterized the events in Paris as “the most extraordinary market opportunity in our history that will stimulate huge investments in clean energy technology.” He went on to say that he sees this agreement as a clear market opportunity that will open up a new economy, stimulate new jobs and contribute to greater global stability and security. When asked how he would sell this agreement to the American people, he stated that he would sell it “based on the economic benefits – period.”

Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency,pointed out that renewable energy is quickly becoming a viable alternative. He noted that 50 percent of all of the new power capacity added globally in the past year has come from renewable energy with projected strong growth in China and India. He also stated that energy efficiency is a big part of the solution – a fact that is particularly relevant to buildings.

During a presentation by corporate real estate leaders from Google and Facebook, they indicated that availability of green power is now a criteria in their real estate location decisions.

The last presentation of the day was a panel that included California Governor Jerry Brown and U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz. Governor Brown discussed how California is leading the way in the U.S. with a mandate for 50 percent of its power to be from renewable sources by 2030 and the implementation of a carbon cap and trade program.

Dr. Moniz stated his belief that innovation and new technology advancements enabled countries to come to Paris with strong commitments for emission reductions that were inconceivable just a few years ago. Technological advancements will be the key to enabling continued progress. Recognition of the role that technology and innovation can play has also led to investment commitments from Bill Gates and others.

Sarah and I ended our last day in Paris by presenting JLL’s corporate sustainability program and our Energy and Sustainability Services to colleagues in our Paris office. The event was well attended and was a perfect opportunity to share our enthusiasm from the events of the last few days. We now look forward to our journey home and to hearing about the final outcome of the COP21 negotiations.

Dan Probst - Jones Lang LaSalleDan Probst is Global Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL. In this role, Dan is responsible for developing and delivering products and services that help clients reduce energy costs and their real estate related environmental footprint through innovative portfolio and occupancy strategies, workplace standards, and operating practices. Dan is also a founding and current member of JLL’s Global Environmental Sustainability Board. For Dan’s full bio, please click here.

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