What is COP21?

30 November 2015


Mark Mullen
Mark Mullen

What is COP21

Held in France, the crucial conference will outline a new international agreement on climate change to keep global warming below 2°C

This week, the leaders of the world are gathering in Paris to determine what to do about global warming. Apparently, their goal is to limit the rise of global temperatures to a maximum of 2 degrees centigrade. This requires that each attending country agrees to limit the growth of their carbon output. More industrially advanced countries must take measures to reduce or exchange their older energy production capabilities for new clean alternatives. But like everything in the modern world this debate has been converted (some would say reduced) to money.

Different methods of energy production (as measured in cost per megawatt or kilowatt hour) cost different amounts of money to produce. There is little consensus about what constitutes a fair benchmark. Nonetheless, it appears that the most expensive forms of energy generation include tidal and offshore wind turbine and the least expensive include hydro, coal and more controversially, nuclear.

Why should we be dismayed that developing economies are resisting any attempt to limit their growth potential by limiting their energy consumption? As far as they are concerned, the problem wasn’t created by them, it was created by the very countries now calling for restraint.

Some months ago I wrote a short blog about Teslas – the US produced electric car. They offer – albeit at a steep price – all the benefits of a carbon-free car with none of the compromises. But if money enables some people to avoid making tradeoffs between pollution and performance, it’s not always so clear cut. And anyway, it’s a luxury not everyone can afford.

It’s in this context that putting a price on the very survival of the planet seems somehow ludicrous.

We can’t help ourselves when we insist on knowing the price of something and the value of nothing but in matters of climate change, if we persist in this course we will find that we simply can’t help ourselves.

What has this got to do with banking? Nothing – but it’s my planet too.

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