05 Dec Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland: businesses can turn challenges into opportunities
The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has convened in Katowice, Poland, on 2nd December 2018 for a two-week climate change conference, almost three years after the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, and entered into force in November 2016 (http://cop24.gov.pl/news/news-details/event/idx-125/news/whats-at-stake-at-cop-24/).
The landmark Paris climate pact entails that each country will set its own emissions target, starting in 2020 when the pact comes into force, and then choose a new target for reductions every five years (https://www.ft.com/content/acd0e8b6-f3d2-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d).
More than 150 heads of state have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global average rise in temperature to well below 2°C, and as close as possible to 1.5°C, under the Paris Agreement (https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf).
Keeping global warming to no more than 1.5°C global average over pre-industrial levels, is critical, as it will help stave off devastating permanent damage to the planet and its people.
This includes the irreversible loss of habitat for animals in the Arctic and Antarctic; more frequent instances of deadly extreme heat; water scarcity that could impact more than 300 million people; disappearance of coral reefs which are essential for entire communities and marine life; and sea-level rise that threatens the future and economy of entire small island nations (https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1026851).
Other commitments of the Paris Agreement include increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate change and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production, as well as making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse emissions and climate-resilient development (https://us.boell.org/2018/11/27/whats-stake-cop-24#Part%202).
In essence, this Conference is for all the countries that are party to the Paris Agreement to set guidelines that will govern their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a green future, as 2018 is the deadline that signatories of the Paris Agreement agreed upon in order to adopt a work programme for the implementation of the Paris commitment. (https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/cop24-paris-agreement-climate-change-global-warming-poland-katowice-un-environment-a8663431.html).
It is worth mentioning, that there have been notable achievements regarding the climate pact, such as the fact that at least 57 countries have managed to bring their greenhouse gas emissions down to the levels required to curb global warming, there are at least 51 “carbon pricing” initiatives in the works, and in 2015, 18 high-income countries have committed to donating US 100 billion a year for climate action in developing countries. Over US 70 billion has been mobilized, so far (https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1026851).
Most prominently, climate change presents with its business opportunities, as governments around the globe have begun to enact stringent environmental policies, in accordance to the Paris agreement, and this has sent a strong signal to businesses and investors alike that a lower-carbon future lies ahead (http://ww2.cfo.com/business-expansion/2017/11/climate-change-presents-opportunities/).
The transition to a low-carbon economy, taking into account government regulations and technological innovations, can create new markets in renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture, carbon-efficient transportation, and other infrastructure.
Due to the opportunities in investing in a low-carbon economy, a network of 120 institutional investors with more than US 15 trillion in assets, have recently committed to addressing climate change and investing in low-carbon opportunities (https://climatetrust.org/opportunities-for-business-in-fighting-climate-change/).
The renewable energy market is continuously growing, demonstrated by the fact that Bloomberg New Energy projects that there will be US 7.4 trillion in new renewable energy investment by 2040 (https://about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/).
On parallel lines, there are direct investment opportunities, such as green buildings, which incorporate a variety of energy-saving innovations, that have attracted more investment than renewable energy (https://about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/).
As such, businesses can turn the challenges that climate change presents, into business opportunities.