Decarbonisation is on the way. Get ready for it.
Whatever happens in Paris in December at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, one thing is clear: decarbonisation is coming. For business and society more generally, this has stark implications. Primarily, it signals that the time has arrived to get out of fossil fuels, which for two centuries have provided the energy that has underpinned the development of modern society.
The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, which hosts the climate change-focused Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group puts it succinctly. The next 15 years, it says, will be “a time of unprecedented change in the global economy, as new development, investment decisions and technology development will all be delivered in the context of climate change.”
The clean-up operation that business and society will have to perform will go beyond carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry. For example, greenhouse gas emissions are also produced by agriculture, in particular livestock production, and by the way waste is managed – methane and other gases leak from landfill sites. These emissions must also be controlled or curtailed, implying wide-ranging changes to current practices. For example, measures might have to be put in place to reduce...