Aled Jones

In 2006 the Stern Review, commissioned by the UK Government, developed a new economic understanding of the impact of climate change by including risk into standard cost/benefit analysis. With the finance system in turmoil as a result of bad risk management, a new stimulus for the economy is needed to ensure that we can continue to grow and avoid the worst outcomes from a credit crunch. A ‘green’ growth push, led by governments and supported by business, has the potential to rebuild confidence in the economic system and should incorporate climate risk into its framework from the beginning.

In November 2007 a group of 170 companies from around the world published The Bali Communiqué . The Communiqué called on world leaders to agree a comprehensive, legally binding United Nations framework to tackle climate change. The initiative represented an unprecedented coming together of the international business community and included some of the biggest companies and brands, including organizations from the United States, Europe, Australia and China.

With governments and politicians now increasingly focused on this issue, and with a strong call from business to create the political space required to start detailed discussions on the implementation of policies, it is now important to move beyond a vision for emissions reductions (usually outlined as emissions reduction targets) and into real action to identify the particular pathways that we are to take to achieve these targets.

Governments must use regulations and standards across the board to help deliver the necessary technology and behaviour changes, and should work closely with business to ensure that the changes can be delivered rapidly. To support technology discovery, demonstration and deployment, governments must use cap-and-trade markets to establish a carbon price, forward procurement, rising standards, subsidy reform, funding support for discovery and demonstration and funding support for technology transfer (possibly through revenue generated by auctioning of carbon allowances on cap-and-trade markets). To reduce the risk of climate impacts, governments must develop strong adaptation strategies and work closely with the insurance sector to ensure that the risks are brought down to a manageable level. Adaptation strategies, in particular around water, food and health, should be shared between governments.

In summary the biggest obstacle for government to overcome to achieve a low carbon, or low climate risk, economy is political will. Business has given the green light for action and there is no one policy area that should be prioritized – instead we need government to prioritize developing, and clearly articulating, a vision and pathway to get us from today to 2020, 2050 and beyond.

Dr Aled Jones is the Deputy Director, University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership


2 responses to “Aled Jones

  1. Business has given the green light, but who is going to finance it? The politicians are sceptical since the consumer already paying his and his children future tax budget to the banks. Another ”green tax” is highly unlikely. Tens of Trillions of capital is idle in the off shore tax heaven. Fear is keeping them out of action!

    We need primarily
    a. Political will to create international consensus to stimulate investment on environment.

    b. Compelling Innovative business cases that attract private investor: Not like the idle wind mill outside the ”Bella Centre” in Copenhagen last week , the day Al Gore was arriving for the World Business Summit.

    c. A environmental ”debit/credit ” reward system as incentive to individuals, families, SMEs and corporations.

    Dr Marios Gerogiokas
    UPF-UK Environment Chapter

  2. Aled, you’re on the right track looking at how to do growth post-credit-crunch. You could go deeper by digging into the mindset that caused the credit crunch and transferring the lessons (about narrow silo thinking, incrementalism, systemic risks and incentives) into climate and the wider sustainability dilemma. We can face up to the extent to which our habits of responding to global problems preclude any possibility of success.

    We need cuts in GHG concentrations so incremental reductions in emissions is a dangerously shy scale of ambition. We need reversals in multiple critical global problems so let’s beware of policies that target one element within one problem. Finally please reconsider the post-1972 consensus that global problems should be tackled by regulatory cages such as capping and prescriptive central planning. Most global problems are economic and can be fixed by non-prescriptive market corrections. Some of these are incredibly simple but powerful.

    You may enjoy my latest presentation, “From credit crunch to planet crunch – or revival” linked to my name. Comments welcome!

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