The end of the year will be eventful for the sustainability world as COP21, the international conference on climate change, starts in less than 60 days. The conference’s outcome has been disappointing in the past: in Copenhagen in 2009, where world leaders couldn’t come to an agreement for action, and in other conferences where targets weren’t ambitious enough. It led to a disengagement of the general public and the private sector from the issue. We lost a lot of time to tackle it.
This is evidence of the COP’s importance, making the stakes even higher this time around. Many argue that this is our last chance to act to stay below the two degree threshold over which our climate will change, with no possible return.
But there is room for hope as, this year, countries are required to set individual and specific INDCs or ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (emissions reductions targets) ahead of the conference. It could help ensure some level of action is taken, and limit the possibilities of the agreement caving in to the lowest common denominator.
COP21’s outcome should have a big influence on expectations around sustainability targets moving forward, for the private sector as well as for governments and the rest of society. It should set new standards for businesses and what we mean by ‘doing our bit’.
If we want this to happen, it is vital for this COP to succeed. Our nations must take the lead and show that climate change is a first priority issue that needs to – and will – be tackled right now.
Image credits: Eiffel Tower from the Tour Montparnasse by Terrazzo, CC