Climate Conferences, COP

The Climate Group's Mark Kenber on clean energy post-COP21

What exactly made the COP21 Paris climate talks late last year different from other high profile meetings of political and private sector leaders.

According to Climate Group CEO Mark Kenber, part of the puzzle is the broader context of a transition already underway to a low-carbon economy.

"If you take the Copenhagen catastrophe of 2009, there were lots of companies making all sorts of commitments and announcements and calling for this, that and the other," Kenber recalled during an on-stage interview at the GreenBiz 16 conference in Phoenix earlier this year. "The commitments in the run up to Paris aimed to support the Paris process but were going to carry on regardless."

Well-documented declines in solar energy and battery storage costs are two examples of the economic forces in play, building on shifts in consumer sentiment and political dynamics in some areas. He pointed to the Renewable Energy 100, or RE100, as one example of the staying power of corporate clean energy.

Though Kenber initially counted himself among those who were skeptical about companies following through post-Paris, he's now convinced that clean energy is becoming a strategic priority.

"This time it's not about fashion," he said. "It's about real economics and real business opportunity."