Theory and Practice of Business under Sustainability Principles
Edited by Geoffrey Wells
Chapter 15: The economics of climate change: the Stern and Garnaut reports and their implications for business
Over a century ago the Nobel Prize winning chemist Svente Arrhenius (1896), calculated that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere would increase global temperatures by 5 degrees Celsius. His work however did not attempt to identify the economic impact such a change might have on the economy. Nor did he examine the possible cost of attempting to prevent this increase. While scientific research into the link between global temperatures and increased carbon dioxide wavered over the next 90 years, emissions did not decrease and by 1988 scientists and politicians were sufficiently concerned about global warming trends and the possible link to human activity that they established an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) followed in 1992, initiating a series of international conferences, the most notable being the 1997 Kyoto meeting that established specific targets to reduce greenhouse gases. Unfortunately adherence to this agreement by the original parties (mostly developed countries) was not unanimous, and later meetings that aimed to improve and extend the protocol (including recently Copenhagen 2009, Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, and Bonn 2012) have not been overwhelmingly successful. Nonetheless at the international level the number of countries agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continues to increase, and negotiations on how to coordinate reductions in greenhouse gases persist.
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