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World Economic Forum shows climate change back on global agenda

World Economic Forum

Creative Commons: World Economic Forum, 2015

Despite the plethora of private jets, climate change is firmly on the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

Falling oil prices, massive growth in renewables and the unveiling of new research showing the poor state of the earth have all driven the need and possibilities for climate action to the forefront of many attendees’ minds.

The most high profile moment has been the announcement by Al Gore and US popstar Pharrell Williams of a second round of Live Earth concerts to promote climate action.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, used Davos to urge the international community to help developing nations cope with climate change, highlighting that 2014 was the hottest year on record.

He said:

We are seeing the accelerated impact of climate change. Last year was the hottest on record. That matters. Extreme weather is real. It’s a complete no brainer to move towards cleaner more liveable cities.

But despite such headline-grabbing pronouncements, business clearly needs to step up its action with climate failing to feature in a list of top risks in a CEO survey released in advance of the meeting.

The science presented at the World Economic Forum is unambiguous: the world is in trouble.

But researchers also believe that hope is at hand.

Johan Rockström, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, argued in Davos that societies are reaching a tipping point for mobilisation and support for climate action from policymakers.

He warned:

Earth is now in a quantifiably new state. We have identified nine boundaries. More worryingly, we assess Earth has now transgressed four of these boundaries, including two core boundaries, climate and biodiversity. This means the 2C climate target nations are set to agree in Paris this year, is critical.

Further, the potential opportunities from addressing climate change are impressive.

Research by We Mean Business shows that returns on low carbon investments average close to 30 per cent across all sectors in every corner of the world.

Bringing these opportunities to the fore will help set the ground for Paris to deliver a durable agreement that can scale up ambition in the future and keep global warming below 2C.

With such clear benefits of climate action for the planet, people and profit, it is time for everybody to get cracking.

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