“The EU can set its own goals, but it needs the rest of the world to get on board as well”
In this Q&A with Brussels based FTI Consulting, John Harris VP Head Governmental Affairs & Public Relations at Landis+Gyr addresses five climate questions ahead of the COP21 meeting taking place in Paris between November 30th - December 11th 2015.
Are you optimistic about what can be achieved at COP21?
Given the outcomes of the other conferences since Kyoto, I think we should be cautious. Nonetheless, there is progress – or at least recognition of the problem – in several countries that were reluctant to sign up to more stringent limits at previous conferences. If the United States and China are willing to get on board, the chances for a conclusion with tangible results are greatly improved.
What do you think about the European Union’s measures to tackle climate change? Is it doing enough and has it found the right balance between climate protection and competitiveness?
The European Union has certainly been the world leader in setting to address climate change. The “horror” scenarios of a de-industrialized Europe due to the ambitious CO2 and renewables goals have not come true. The fact that the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is simply not functioning probably has something to do with that. The costs to competitiveness in Europe have other causes than climate protection measures. If the European Union is going to be a leader in combatting climate change, it needs followers. Any significant savings in CO2 that Europe has made are more than made up for elsewhere. Even within Europe this is the case: some Member States have seen significant savings in CO2, while this is negated elsewhere. This virtual entity called “the world community” needs to get serious about addressing the problem of climate change.
In your view, what the EU should do to be successful on its fight against climate change?
The EU should get the ETS working – that would probably be the biggest single tool to make a real difference in Europe’s CO2 emissions. Secondly, the EU can set its own goals, but it needs the rest of the world to get on board as well. That may mean setting less ambitions targets, but the most lofty goals have no effect if the amount of greenhouse gases that Europe saves in a year, are emitted in China in one day.
How the discussions at COP21 will affect businesses?
If the framework is set up, companies and entrepreneurs will be able to see that there is money to be made in green technologies that will do the most to combat climate change. Not political goals but technological advancement through free market incentives will make the difference. There doesn’t have to be a contradiction between economic growth and climate protection.
Where are you personally going to be during COP21?
Working as usual. I’ll be in my office in Switzerland and also travelling within Europe.
This article was first published by FTI Consulting. Read more here: http://ftiatcop21.com/blog