B4E Climate Summit 2010


Accelerating solutions through partnership and innovation

The B4E Climate Change Summit held in Mexico City during Oct 4-5 2010 captured a turning point in the battle against climate change that can best be described in Winston Churchill’s famous words after the Allied victory at El Alamein in 1942: it was not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. The muted outcomes from COP 15 had shown that expectations which began at Rio regarding the political will for tackling climate change (the “Rio Dream”) had to be scaled back considerably. Going forward, it was reasonable to expect that not much was possible by way of global polity. But the year also marked the resurgence in the power of markets as enterprises recognized the business opportunities for mitigating climate change.

Despite the variety of topics, industry sectors, and business functions represented at the summit, there was remarkable consistency among delegates along two dimensions. First, there was a more realistic call for simple, consistent global regulations and incentives (even if scaled back in scope) that would give some measure of certainty to business. While governments had an important role to play, business enterprises were now much more realistic about their ability to reach consensus on far-reaching regulatory change. As a result, businesses expected that they would have to deal more with country-specific regulations. Second, there was a major shift in perception among businesses themselves with regard to climate change. Rather than focus on it as a problem that had to be tackled (which it no doubt is), businesses were now viewing it as a great opportunity for deploying solutions. The tenor of the summit reflected a greater confidence in global markets rather than global polity in providing solutions to climate change.