Only Big Business Can Save the Planet

Currency symbols carved in tree in field
Money to fight climate change doesn't grow on trees.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The author argues that any political agreement that comes out of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris next month is unlikely to go far enough in lowering future global temperature rises.

  • Facts


    • The United Nations climate summit will take place between November 30 and December 11 in Paris.
    • An agreement on action to reduce temperature rises is almost certain to be signed by 60 leading countries.
    • China, which is responsible for half of the world’s entire coal combustion, has announced it wants to reduce carbon emissions from 2030.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

Big political summits are often ceremonies of showmanship, where public relations is more important than content. So any euphoria about the upcoming U.N. global climate change conference in Paris would be ill-advised.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has already warned over-optimistic observers not to expect a binding agreement. That’s not what the United States wants. It never even ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2012, and since then there has only been a certain vacuum regarding climate policy.

A look behind the scenes before the big show in Paris reveals it really won’t be that much about politics. Vilified companies, and even more vilified financial investors, have apparently made more progress than national governments as they bargain about allowable toxic emissions. Today the global trend is toward “green money” — or investing in ecologically advantageous technology. Industries that damage the environment are out of the game.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.