What comes after COP21?

American-Danish Business Council and the UN Foundation discussion on

What comes after COP 21

On November 10th ADBC in collaboration with the UN Foundation hosted a very successful roundtable discussion themed ‘What happens after COP21?’. The event had the #growrenewables and was streamed live with follow-up Twitter questions included.

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11, will be held in Paris, from November 30th to December 11th. The main objective of the conference is the ambitious goal of achieving a united, binding agreement on climate to be signed by all nations in the world.

Vice President for Energy and Climate Strategy at the United Nations Foundation Reid Detchon and celebrated, Danish renewable energy and environmental specialist Søren Hermansen were the key speakers at the event, which was moderated by Chris Bender of Novozymes.

Hele bordet

The discussion was opened with Reid Detchon summing up all the progress and successful initiatives towards climate change this year. Among these initiatives he named: prominent technological advances, cheaper solutions to prevent climate change and, maybe most important, the Pope becoming involved in the climate debate—demonstrating that climate change is now also becoming a moral as well as a state issue.

COP21 is important – as agreement and successful implementation will, not only help the environment, but create jobs and strengthen the economies involved. The prospect of energy independency combined with a healthier economy has sparked an excitement on all levels, something clearly more beneficial than ‘doomsday prophesies’ on climate.

Although the speakers were in agreement on the overall goals of COP21, they had very different opinions on the strategy of getting there.

Reid Detchon argued that ratification of a binding climate agreement on state levels will produce better conditions for implementing lasting solutions for national climate friendly infrastructure. Søren Hermansen, on the other hand, advocated climate change action on a smaller, even municipal level—like on the island of Samso. Hermansen’s argument was that the smaller changes inspire gradual, natural inspiration for societies to adapt climate friendly solutions, both on a large and small scale – ‘A billion localities doing the right thing will lead to change’ says Hermansen. Reid Detchon compared progress on climate change to a very large and heavy rock being pushed up a hill. He now sees that rock reaching the top and starting to roll quickly down the hill. In other words, nations are ready to act together.

Aiding this initiative, an increase in tourism focussing on energy has increased both in Denmark and certain key places in the US. Overall, the prospect for action after COP21 is positive, although it will take a great deal of effort to see measurable results.

In conclusion, although the speakers disagreed on how to act, they did agree that action is both imperative and, at long last, more likely than not.

Hermansen (left) and Detchon (right)

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