Davos Notebook

from The Great Debate:

Business must take the lead on carbon management

APOTHEKER

Léo Apotheker is CEO of SAP. The views expressed are his own.

Most people who followed the Copenhagen climate talks in December will have been disappointed.

While the agreement brokered by the group of countries that included the United States, Brazil, China, India and South Africa and ratified by most of the attending countries is being touted as a success of sorts, it fell far short of the expectations that had built up, and achieved very little in concrete terms.

Now with the World Economic Forum approaching, the issue of climate change and sustainability will once again dominate discussions among the business and political leaders who attend the annual gathering in Davos.

Ever since the 1968 publication in Science of Garrett Hardin’s article “The Tragedy of the Commons,” it has been regarded as virtually an article of faith that only strong national and international regulators can be trusted with the proper management of public resources.

A clear regulatory framework is necessary for businesses to act in competitive environments and maybe at least some pieces of such a framework will be provided in the future. But it was not provided at Copenhagen.

Climate change – does business get it?

Climate change — and the need for governments to reach a deal in Copenhagen on limiting climate-changing emissions — has been one of the central themes of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

And despite concerns that the economic crisis could push climate change down the agenda, businesses are salivating at the opportunities offered by going green.

Previously sceptical politicians and NGOs welcome business’s enthusiasm.

“Quite a lot of business has got it, and really understands that this has got to happen and are talking about really innovative things,” Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam.

A climate deal: easier than trade?

Conventional wisdom has it that if the leaders of the world can’t agree on a round of negotiations to liberalise world trade then there’s no chance they will agree on measures to tackle climate change.

After all, a pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions will involve re-tooling vast swathes of industry and impact the way companies do business from Boston to Beijing.

But is that view right? British economist Nicholas Stern – author of a seminal report in 2006 on the economic fallout of global warming – thinks not.