Governments are lagging behind in efforts to curb climate change and reduce carbon emissions while businesses understand there is a market in becoming socially responsible and are taking the initiative, David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government and current director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University and senior science adviser to UBS, writes in the Observer.
Businesses are realizing that socially responsible measures are leading to improved profit margins. BP now saves an estimated $230 million a year from reducing energy consumption. DuPont has seen a 72 percent reduction in CO2 emissions over 15 years, after it introduced an awards and rewards system within the company.
In the meantime, King is disheartened by government efforts. Sure, governments agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2050 at the G8 summit in Japan last week, but apart from that most governments are still arguing for increases in fossil fuel supplies.
King offers some suggestions:
1. Work with businesses committed to improving the environment.
2. Put a price for CO2 emissions that’s expensive enough to make alternative technologies make economic sense for businesses.
3. Advanced economies should reduce emissions by 70 to 80 percent by 2050. While developing economies’ trajectory could be allowed to rise first then fall.
4. Trading in carbon emission should be encouraged between nations, as it is between companies (In the EU, the carbon emission’s market is worth about $88 billion).
He also offers a novel ideal where banks would commit to reducing CO2 emissions just as they commit to controlling the inflation.