'We are in a much better position now than we were in the run-up to Copenhagen'
BusinessGreen is asking key green business leaders for their views on the importance of the climate change talks due to take place in the French capital at the end of this year.
This week we spoke to Betrand van Ee, chief executive of Climate-KIC.
What do you hope to see achieved in Paris?
We are facing systemic risk from climate change, in terms of the liveability of cities, and the availability of food and resources to maintain human lives and the economy. In Paris, I hope to see ambition from world leaders to set bold targets, and for politicians and businesses to work together to deliver tangible action. A transition is required from current standard business practice to a sustainable, climate-friendly system, so I hope to see the trajectory from 2020 clearly signposted in order to allow the necessary public and private sector investment to be made now and over the coming decades to deliver the innovation we need. Public sector financing alone will not be enough for the job ahead, but through collaboration and co-ordination between the public, private and knowledge sectors we can deliver real impact.
What do you think will be agreed?
I think specific agreements will be reached around climate change mitigation targets and carbon pricing mechanisms. We will know much more about what will be agreed after the next round of meetings in Bonn in mid-October, but we are in a much better position now than we were in the run-up to Copenhagen. While most experts agree that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) will not be enough to limit global warming to two degrees, the declarations are an important step along the path to dealing with climate change. Pledges by the US and China in particular show a step change in the political capital big emitters are willing to invest in dealing with climate change.
How would a Paris deal impact your business?
Climate-KIC increases the resilience of its European partners by helping them to identify climate risk, then to select, demonstrate and scale up new technological innovations and models to deliver quantifiable climate and economic impacts - from mitigating and adapting to the causes of climate change to creating jobs and leveraging financing. A global deal will provide the certainty for businesses to make the crucial investments to adapt. Breakthrough technologies with the potential to enable Europe to lead the low carbon economy post COP21 already exist, but face huge barriers to scale. Innovation alone isn't enough: ideas must reach the market to create climate impact at a large and self-sustainable scale. An ambitious agreement in Paris will provide a tremendous boost to our mission.
Do you think green businesses are making themselves heard?
I think green businesses do a great job of talking about what they do, but system-level barriers mean that they aren't always heard. COP21 will demonstrate that green businesses can no longer be ignored. Tackling climate change is often framed as a very demanding and costly problem - but it also provides opportunities for businesses and regional economic growth at all levels. An ambitious global agreement will create a thriving market environment of opportunities for innovators addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation - and shape the world's next economy.
In 240 characters what would your message be to the lead negotiators?
We have an unprecedented opportunity to create a zero carbon economy and climate resilient society, driven by innovation. Business can and must be a part of this effort, and negotiators now need to provide the clarity for them to invest in this future.
Are you going to the Paris summit and how are you getting there?
I am going to the Paris summit and will be showcasing the innovative solutions that already exist to help us mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our #JourneyToParis campaign kicked off with the Climathon - a global 24-hour hackathon-style climate change event which took place simultaneously in 20 major cities across six continents around the world on the 18 June 2015. The winning teams are now developing their ideas, and the best will join us in Paris in December. I am getting there by train from London.