This is a very interesting and apposite question. In my view the biggest obstacle that the governments of the industrialised economies have to overcome is the all pervasive apathy that runs throughout society, business, politicians and private individuals alike, regarding the breadth and scale of the problem that we face with climate change, and the concomitant breadth and scale of the response that is required if it is too be addressed successfully.
The industrialised economies have been built on the false premise of cheap and freely available energy. Even if their citizens recognise the reality of climate change, they regard it as someone else’s responsibility to deal with it; either government or business or both. They do not recognise the need for everyone to change their lifestyle to one which is consistent with a low carbon world, and politicians are too frightened of the electoral consequences of forcing this change, for example by increasing the price of energy to more realistic levels. Although many individuals will espouse belief in the need to take action to address climate change, in their private lives they do very little to put this belief into practice.
All governments need to find ways to engage with their citizens and stimulate them to change to low carbon lifestyles by a combination of; incentives such as creating opportunities for business to make money out of combating climate change, using policy levers to embed energy efficiency, investing in low carbon energy production, and pricing energy at levels that reflect its cost to the environment.
John Roberts, Deputy Chairman of the stakeholder advisory group at EDF Energy