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Scenes from the 'Business' Day in Copenhagen

Scenes from the 'Business' Day in Copenhagen

The cold air from Russia reached Copenhagen at the weekend, and it was freezing cold in the very long queue to the Bella Center. The only way to reach the COP15 conference was by subway and foot because of the demonstrations in the city center. (For the allegedly happiest population in the world, the presence of the green Politi sign was quite impressive this morning; that being said, this is the first time in my personal experience that a police officer apologized laughingly to me for not being able to offer a cup of hot chocolate.)

The day was somewhat quiet in COP15 as everyone was commenting and reflecting on the course of the first week of negotiations. Generally there was a quiet sense of progress around the patch.

The afternoon was the opportunity for side events, and the Copenhagen Climate Council had invited a set of business leaders to exchange their respective approaches and solutions in the spectacular Kronborg Castle. But will the setting, which allegedly inspired Shakespeare to create Hamlet, lead attendees to say lines like "To be or not to be" sustainable is "much ado about nothing"? Let's hope not!

A few highlights from a great conference:

The proactive strategy of DONG energy to aggressively replace coal with renewables, Coca-Cola's description of the emergence at fast speed of a sustainable consumer, the much-needed focus of the consumer goods industry on de-carbonizing their supply chain, the innovative projects of an "ecobank" in Egypt, and of carbon capture via new technology like Ecospec in Singapore and the large scale CCS trials of Duke in China.

What struck me over the day was the obvious and genuine commitment of business to act on climate change and the key obstacles identified, specifically: The long-term risk posed by the absence of a clear reliable perspective on profitability, in particular because of the absence of an effective carbon price tunnel or the insufficient channeling of investments towards low carbon economy solutions.

Moreover, the business leaders on stage all recognized the much-needed focus on emerging markets to sustain growth opportunities while addressing climate change. One could also notice the very visible presence of Chinese companies and their committed strategies towards renewables and sustainable growth.

Three interesting comments:

1. One statement from panelist: Climate change is a multi-billion USD emerging market.

2. One exciting sweet spot of energy efficiency -- the opportunity -- is where energy technology and Information technology meet.

3. A shared conclusion: Business will need to continue to act in any case coming out of Copenhagen. It is first and foremost our responsibility as individuals and business people.

Bruno Berthon, based in Paris, is Managing Director of Accenture's Sustainability Services Group and will be blogging his thoughts from Copenhagen during the Summit.


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