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Making Copenhagen a Success

<p>The Copenhagen climate change conference is already a milestone for putting the issue on the map for nearly 200 world leaders, but it has the potential to become a historic moment if they can find enough common ground and secure these five elements needed to launch a low carbon future.</p>

Momentum from the Copenhagen Summit (COP15) is already starting to build and echoes of the political intrigue surrounding negotiations are making their way into the world’s media in anticipation of next week’s agreement.

Set against this backdrop, one could argue that recent events in the build-up to Copenhagen are all a clear confirmation that something substantial is brewing: Confirmation of the U.S. President and Chinese Premier’s presence at the final political meeting; moves by the EU and U.S. administrations to confirm and maybe even increase their commitments to technology transfer (albeit not without conditions); positioning by emerging economy leaders from Lula’s continued leadership to the recent Indian statements; ongoing efforts by President Obama to orchestrate a shift in attitude and positioning of the U.S.; and of course this week’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that confirmed their willingness to regulate emissions based on the dangerous threat to public health.

As John Kerry said at this year’s UNEP conference in Paris, setting a shared ambition and baseline on emissions reduction targets is key to success and will create a process that all parties can join. Once this baseline is in place, it will build its own momentum and we will see acceleration, as we did for the CFC’s ban.

Viewed in these terms, one could argue that despite the reservations of NGO leaders, the criticism of scientists’ around the emissions target levels, and the insufficient carbon finance commitment needed to fund the required transition, the Copenhagen Summit is already a qualified success.

Why? Because it has put climate change on the map and in the mind of the top leaders of nearly 200 countries, not to mention citizens and business leaders around the world as the media storm unfolds.

So, given we may not see a binding treaty next week, what would it take to make Copenhagen a resounding success?

In my view, five key elements will need to be in place to launch the journey to a global low carbon economy:

•  Developed World Targets -- a confirmed and ambitious set of targets for the developed economies for 2020, with the official commitment of the US at a significant level;
•  Emerging Economies  Buy-in -- a clear commitment from emerging economies to substantially increase their carbon efficiency and recognition of their need to curb significantly total emissions before 2050 – therefore allowing them to decouple their much needed growth from emissions - 
•  Carbon Finance -- a confirmed commitment to large-scale carbon financing e.g. the financing of technology transfers to the developing economies to accelerate adoption of clean energy solutions
•  Market Mechanisms -- a framework for accelerating the set-up and development of effective carbon markets, perhaps initially at a national or regional and sector level, but with the objective of convergence over time
•  Global Governance -- the most challenging element -- a clear  model going forward, which enables countries to address their most critical internal challenges and commitments to their citizens, while also taking their duty-bound role as part of a global economy on addressing climate change? 

The mission is clear and awareness has progressed dramatically as the world has embarked on this complex journey: Copenhagen is already a key milestone.

I believe it could become a historic moment if the world’s leaders can find enough common ground to ‘convert the try.’ That will require vision and courage but it could unlock an unprecedented economic shift and spark a new wave of growth and innovation -- creating a platform for sustained private and public sector action and investment for the future.

Bruno Berthon is global managing director of sustainability services at Accenture. Based in Paris, Bruno has worked with the top management of multinationals across several industries, including consumer goods, retail, telecommunications and media, on their transformation agenda. Over the last 14 years, he has specialized in helping organizations address the challenges of globalization, large-scale operating model change and innovation.

Click here for full coverage of COP15 from the and teams, including posts from Copenhagen by Executive Editor Joel Makower and Senior Contributor Marc Gunther, and from dozens of guest contributors from the business world.

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