– Lord Julian Hunt is a Visiting Professor at Delft University, Vice-President of Globe, and former Director-General of the UK Met Office. The opinions expressed are his own –
The environment has long been a key area of focus for delegates at the World Economic Forum. This year will be no different with the gathering at Davos taking place only a month after the UN Climate Change Conference meeting in Cancun.
Far from being another unsuccessful international environmental meeting, as some predicted, the Cancun Summit is likely to be looked back upon in years to come as a seminal moment. The accord endorsed the various actions of countries to limit green house gas emissions. However, more significantly for the long term it accepted that preserving the global environment in its present state is probably unattainable.
The focus thus now moves to adaptation to deal with the more volatile climate that is predicted by all the major centres of climate science for the rest of this century and beyond. This mammoth effort will necessitate enhanced cooperation from leaders across the public, private and third sectors, including many of those at Davos this week.
The exceptional seriousness of the global warming problem was underlined most recently by an International Energy Agency (IEA) report last November on the trend of increasing global emissions of green house gases. Under the Copenhagen Accord’s environmental goals and pledges (as at the end of November), emissions would rise 21% above 2008 levels by 2035 alone; the emissions growth rate of China (now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases) will increase at an even greater rate than this.