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The Unusual Suspects

Todd Holden, director for low carbon at the Business Growth Hub, gives his take on the growing list of supporters for an ambitious global climate change deal at the upcoming UN negotiations in Paris.

Todd Holden, director for low carbon at the Business Growth Hub, gives his take on the growing list of supporters for an ambitious global climate change deal at the upcoming UN negotiations in Paris.

“The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come. So why isn’t more being done to address it?” 

It’s not the sentiment here that’s unusual, but rather who said it. It was the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, in his speech last month to delegates at the City Dinner at Lloyd’s Bank.  

Carney used his keynote address to leading figures in the finance sector to emphasise the risks of climate change to financial and economic stability. He described it as the ‘Tragedy of the Horizon’ – the notion that the crisis transcends the traditional cycles of business, politics and technocratic authorities like central banks.

With international negotiations in Paris almost upon us, Carney’s intervention was both thorough and timely, with a clear focus on the consequences of climate change rather than the change itself.  

The Bank of England is not the only unusual suspect to join the debate. In mid-October, NATO called on global leaders to secure an ambitious deal in Paris to avoid escalating security threats. China, the world’s biggest polluter, is making a clear move to emerge as a climate leader. Pope Francis used his recent addresses to the UN General Assembly and US Congress to urge for more action. A consensus is building in almost every sphere of influence. 

Smart companies are already reading the writing on the wall. We’re seeing international banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America move investment away from fossil fuels to reduce their environmental, social and financial risks. With the divestment movement continuing to grow, BP’s chief economist has recently admitted that most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned. 

As Mr Carney said – the window of opportunity may be finite and shrinking, but there is still time to act.

This article first appeared in the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce 53 Degrees magazine.