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FEATURE: Press release – countries making progress without a global deal

Simon Maxwell, CBE, is Executive Chair of CDKN and one of their spokespeople at CoP17 (1 – 7 Dec). For interviews or background briefings, contact Gudrun Freese or phone him directly – contact numbers are provided in Notes to Editors. 

Durban 2011 – Giant strides or fairy footsteps?

Countries making progress on green growth without a global deal

Join Simon Maxwell and others at the South African Climate Change Expo, EU Pavillion Stand, CoP17, Durban, Saturday 3 Dec 2011, 2 – 4 pm. The full version of Simon’s article, summarised below, is published in Mail & Guardian Online today.

1 Dec 2011, London ~ Giant strides are needed to decarbonise the world economy: a global deal on emissions targets, generous finance, and a high and rising international price of carbon. But global negotiations aren’t making giant strides. Does that mean we have to sit on our hands?

Simon Maxwell, CBE, Executive Chair of Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) argues:

“There are other pathways less suited to giant strides, but perhaps open to fairy footsteps, that might lead us to the same destination.”

In a panel discussion with other members of the CDKN alliance of organisations, Simon and CDKN project partners will talk about countries that are getting on with low-carbon development despite Kyoto – because it makes sense, in at least 6 different ways…

  • Greening the economy turns out, up to a point, to be net cost-saving. Marks and Spencer in the UK introduced Plan A – a set of commitments to make the company greener. Budgeted to cost £200m, it turned out to be cost neutral: a successful business investment. In Mexico and in many other countries programmes have been established to introduce low energy light bulbs and other efficient domestic appliances which have resulted in cost saving.
  • Climate-friendly investments often have benefits in other areas as well – and these co-benefits are at least as attractive to local communities  – and voters – as the climate gains. In Toronto, for example, coal-fired power stations were phased out to reduce smog, not emissions. In Rwanda, a prime driver is energy security.
  • Many countries are driven to act by the threat of disasters – the 2010 floods in Pakistan, for example, are estimated to have affected 20 million people and cost over $US 10 bn.
  •  Countries and companies see the economic and business benefits in being first movers in a new global economy. Korea provides an excellent example, investing heavily in green energy, electronics, bioenergy industries and other industries whose future will be bright, whether or not a global deal is agreed.
  • The policy conundrum of climate change, the careful balancing of winners and losers, can be tackled by encouraging – even co-opting – civil society. Change can become a national enthusiasm, buoyed by teaching in schools, by the optimism of new sources of growth, and by careful deployment of Government investment to re-train, re-shape and re-invigorate.
  • Leadership is a fundamental driver of change. If leaders put climate change high on the agenda and consistently stress the opportunities as well as the costs, then the public mood can begin to swing.

“All these can be thought of as fairy steps,” says Maxwell. “There is no doubt that governments and business and ordinary members of the public will behave differently when a firm post-Kyoto regime is in place, and a global carbon price. It is also the case that it is harder for Governments to invest in R and D, subsidise new industries, or create new infrastructure when budgets are tight and, once again, recession looms. On the other hand, many used the fiscal stimulus which followed the last crisis to invest in the green sector. Perhaps, if there is another crisis, and if a coordinated stimulus is again part of the response, then an accumulation of fairy steps can stretch into giant strides.”


Notes to Editors

1. Press contact for CDKN: Gudrun Freese  +44(0)782 5600 487 (until 5 Dec 2011) +27 (0)798171467 (6 – 9 Dec 2011)

2. Contact Simon Maxwell: Simon Maxwell, CBE, Executive Chair of Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) is one of CDKN’s spokespeople at CoP17 (1 – 7 Dec). To contact him for interviews or background briefings, contact Gudrun or phone him directly on +27 (0) 79 811 5881. 

3. Simon Maxwell is a development economist, who has worked internationally since 1970. He worked for ten years overseas, in Kenya, India and Bolivia, then for fifteen years at the IDS, University of Sussex. In 1997, Simon became Director of ODI, the UK’s leading independent think-tank on international development and humanitarian issues. In 2009, he became a Senior Research Associate of the ODI. From 2001-5, Simon was President of the DSA of the UK and Ireland. In 2007, he was made a CBE, for services to international development. He is currently Executive Chair of Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).

4. Other CDKN Spokespeople at CoP17:  CDKN spokespeople are available for interviews and background briefings throughout COP17, providing on-the-ground examples of topics such as climate-smart agriculture, climate-resilient housing, Green Climate Fund, Kyoto Protocol, low carbon growth strategies in Rwanda, Kenya and other developing countries, disaster risk reduction and other issues affected by the UNFCCC process. Contact details and more info about CDKN:

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