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What Happens If Nothing Happens? Views on the Prospects for Climate Action After COP17


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What Happens If Nothing Happens? Views on the Prospects for Climate Action After COP17Judging by the outcomes of the last two years of negotiations, the world is facing long odds for a breakthrough agreement on global climate policy from the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa. Although the dialogue and outcomes at COP16 in Cancun surpassed many people’s expectations (which had been set fairly low), none of the subsequent discourse suggests that industrialized countries, fast-growing economies, and less developed economies are any closer to agreeing on terms for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol in the Seventh Conference serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7). Nor does it seem likely that meaningful progress will be made on other issues such as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), climate finance, carbon markets, and bilateral agreements.

Few observers who are concerned about the impacts of climate change would hope for a conclusion like this. But the looming possibility of such a conclusion makes it worthwhile for businesses and other organisations to consider what the ensuing dynamics would look like. The new whitepaper What Happens If Nothing Happens? Views on the Prospects for Climate Action After COP17 sets forth a point of view about the likely or possible practical outcomes should the COP17 talks produce no significant results. It also identifies specific implications for business, such as the prospects for executives to make clearer decisions about their sustainability investments and to fill the vacuum of international policy on climate change by exerting leadership and pushing the sustainability agenda forward.

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