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Climate Legislation Summit - An energy boost in international climate work

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It is no hidden secret that the UN climate negotiations have been struggling for many years now. It became apparent to the broad public after the disappointing results following COP15 in Copenhagen, 2009, and since then the trends has nothing but continued. The reasons are many, but is would be dangerous to only blame the individual ambitions of the participating nations. There is a growing consensus that the process in itself is not very well suited for dealing with climate action. So, what are the trends in international climate work? Well, firstly, I would say that the trend is to NOT go internationally. Much can be done on a lower scale where solutions are abundant and increasingly profitable. The city scale has many benefits in being manageable and relevant for meny of the policy initiatives and concrete actions. The solar power revolution is a bottom-up revolution where the action comes from below and the cleantech and price development are driving us towards grid- or socket parity on more and more markets. Secondly, I see trends that longterm responsibility is not restricted to the public stakeholders and interests. In fact, if you think about it; many of todays companies have been around for a long time and plan to stay profitable and vibrant for many more years to come. That is probably why we see private initiatives now leading the way in sustainable innovation and in many ways are implementing carbon emission reductions, instead of waiting for possible future public regulation. There is, however, still great need of longterm action on a relevant systems scale (i.e. international or national). And that has to do with predictable and fair rules for the game but also bridging over responsibilities for climate change mitigation from that inherent short-termism that is imbedded within most countries democratic system. We call it: The Elections. Every third year, or so, our politicians need to secure their voting base, inevitably shifting focus of politics to a more “taking care of the present” standpoint. This points to the weakness when it comes to dealing with responsibilities for reducing carbon emissions on a time scale of 20-30 years. This is where national legislations comes in as a very interesting tool. Should we be able to regulate this responsibility, it becomes much easier (read: mandatory) for the coming elected majority to continue an already chosen path of carbon reductions. The HOW would still be up for discussion, of course. That is what politics is about. I see the main result from a clear national climate change legislation would be a sped up and scale up of climate action. The road to a new and much more ambitious Kyoto deal looks bumpy and that is why the work currently carried out by more and more “climate clubs” is increasingly relevant. One of those is Globe International. By focussing on national legislation on climate, and by doing it many nations together, comparing and learning from each other, more knowledge, cooperation and commitment could be brought into national climate work for all countries. So it is with great hopes and renewed positive energy that I prepare myself for the 2nd Climate Legislation Summit, in Washington, coming up later this week. And I look forward to contributing with my personal experience from working with climate analysis together with the portfolio of climate action from the whole Sweco group. I will update you on the progress of the summit on this blog and via Twitter. Stay tuned. / Andreas Gyllenhammar, Hållbarhetschef Sweco

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Climate Legislation Summit - An energy boost in international climate work

2014-02-26
Andreas Gyllenhammar, Hållbarhetschef Sweco
It is no hidden secret that the UN climate negotiations have been struggling for many years now. It became apparent to the broad public after the disappointing results following COP15 in Copenhagen, 2009, and since then the trends has nothing but continued. The reasons are many, but is would be dangerous to only blame the individual ambitions of the participating nations. There is a growing consensus that the process in itself is not very well suited for dealing with climate action.

So, what are the trends in international climate work?

Well, firstly, I would say that the trend is to NOT go internationally. Much can be done on a lower scale where solutions are abundant and increasingly profitable. The city scale has many benefits in being manageable and relevant for meny of the policy initiatives and concrete actions. The solar power revolution is a bottom-up revolution where the action comes from below and the cleantech and price development are driving us towards grid- or socket parity on more and more markets.

Secondly, I see trends that longterm responsibility is not restricted to the public stakeholders and interests. In fact, if you think about it; many of todays companies have been around for a long time and plan to stay profitable and vibrant for many more years to come. That is probably why we see private initiatives now leading the way in sustainable innovation and in many ways are implementing carbon emission reductions, instead of waiting for possible future public regulation.

There is, however, still great need of longterm action on a relevant systems scale (i.e. international or national). And that has to do with predictable and fair rules for the game but also bridging over responsibilities for climate change mitigation from that inherent short-termism that is imbedded within most countries democratic system. We call it: The Elections. Every third year, or so, our politicians need to secure their voting base, inevitably shifting focus of politics to a more “taking care of the present” standpoint. This points to the weakness when it comes to dealing with responsibilities for reducing carbon emissions on a time scale of 20-30 years. This is where national legislations comes in as a very interesting tool. Should we be able to regulate this responsibility, it becomes much easier (read: mandatory) for the coming elected majority to continue an already chosen path of carbon reductions. The HOW would still be up for discussion, of course. That is what politics is about. I see the main result from a clear national climate change legislation would be a sped up and scale up of climate action.

The road to a new and much more ambitious Kyoto deal looks bumpy and that is why the work currently carried out by more and more “climate clubs” is increasingly relevant. One of those is Globe International. By focussing on national legislation on climate, and by doing it many nations together, comparing and learning from each other, more knowledge, cooperation and commitment could be brought into national climate work for all countries.

So it is with great hopes and renewed positive energy that I prepare myself for the 2nd Climate Legislation Summit, in Washington, coming up later this week. And I look forward to contributing with my personal experience from working with climate analysis together with the portfolio of climate action from the whole Sweco group.

I will update you on the progress of the summit on this blog and via Twitter.
Stay tuned.

/ Andreas Gyllenhammar, Hållbarhetschef Sweco

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