Monday, April 23, 2012

What will drive action on climate change?

Whilst many recognise the impact of climate change, few act to help prevent it. What will give governments, business and citizens the motivation to respond?

We all share responsibility for protecting the planet and while many governments, businesses and citizens are aware of climate change and environmental degradation, few take action against it. The threats posed by inaction may be seen as too distant to matter or even too overwhelming to comprehend.

In the above video, Bjorn Stigson, former president at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, explains the difficulty of motivating the world to act.

"It's not so easy to tell people, let's say in Europe, that we've got a climate problem unless they see very clear signals that there is a climate problem," says Stigson.

"If the sky's blue and there's very little pollution in the air, why should I go through a hardship to try to change something that I don't quite see with my own eyes?"

In a recent blog, WWF's Jason Clay uses the example of a cotton T-shirt to demonstrate how global issues such as water shortages, soil degredation and climate change are interrelated. Clay writes that through their purchasing decisions, consumers can play an active role in driving sustainability and helping to combat climate change.

Lester Brown, president at the Earth Policy Institute, says that the rising cost of food is one issue that could result in consumers taking action, particularly if it becomes clear that increasing costs are partly a result of climate change.

"Its one thing to talk about C02 emissions going from 280 parts per million to 380 parts per million, that doesn't really ring any bells, but people do understand food prices. They see them every week at the supermarket check out counter," Brown says.

"You don't have to draw pictures and when people begin associating that rise in food prices with climate change, I think we'll see some dramatic changes." More