The financial crisis of the last 18 months threatened to put the global economy and financial system into deep freeze for a generation. Now, with the melt waters trickling down the slopes of recovery, the world continues to grapple with another significant threat.
Ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December 2009, where 190 countries will meet to discuss a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, Brunswick invited a range of political and business leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, advisors and NGOs to express their views on the scale of the climate change challenge.
Their responses in this special section reveal a striking consensus that business as usual is simply not an option if catastrophe from its effects is to be avoided. Just as the financial crisis demonstrated why we need to reform our financial system, so the climate change crisis shows that we must also re-make our global energy system. In both cases, we have been living well beyond our means.
Contrary to much perceived wisdom, several contributors emphasize that we can place the global economy on a sustainable footing without compromising the economic future. Many clean energy technologies that protect the environment can also create new jobs for communities around the globe.
As you will read in the following pages, there are many potential solutions. We need to harness energy from the sun, wind and waves, turn waste into energy and salt water into fresh. We need to use fossil fuels in new and more advanced ways, liquefy gas and coal, capture and store carbon from power generation. Alternative energies, such as nuclear power, can help plug the energy gap. And, if we use scarce resources in the most efficient way possible, as capitalism originally intended, we can save the planet rather than exploiting it. Governments, meanwhile, will be expected to set a clear policy framework so that investors and companies have confidence to invest, allowing green markets and clean technologies and entrepreneurship to thrive.
Copenhagen is another milestone on the journey to a lower carbon future that began in 1992, and it will not be the final staging post. The message from contributors is that business and policymakers must build on the remarkable unanimity of purpose, that there is no time to waste, and that the planet really can be saved without costing the earth.