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Global

isn’t enough,” he says. “There is a need for commitment from all parties – legislators, the industry and consumers – to work with the technology and make the required change in behaviours and attitudes.” According to research carried out by Itron, 94 per cent of utility executives believe that current regulation, or lack of clarity around regulation, is a top barrier to investment in infrastructure. For Templer, it is important for society to work together at all levels in order to attain climate change objectives. “At the very highest level, I think the most important thing is to put a cost to carbon emitted by fossil fuels – price it, tax it and make it real,” he says. “At the intermediate level, governments need to think about their patch of turf and how they treat it as a system, in order to make it operate efficiently in terms of legislation and inducement to encourage best behaviour.” Perhaps the hardest part of this is getting individuals to make informed decisions about energy consumption. Templer suggests that governments need to assess how to get individuals to fully engage in combating climate change at all levels, but first and foremost with regards to energy efficiency. “It’s amazing how many people in the UK still don’t have insulation in their lofts,” he says. Certain measures have already been taken by national governments. Nigel Hughes points out the UK’s recent mandate to roll out smart meters, devices that give households detailed information on their energy use and how to cut down on consumption, across the country. Such moves “should be applauded”, he says. Further work has been done in the UK to reduce CO2 emissions. The Climate Change Act 2008 introduced carbon budgets in an attempt to achieve 80 per cent CO2 reduction by 2050. The first four carbon budgets, covering the period 2008-27, have now been implemented, requiring the UK to halve emissions relative to 1990 levels during this period. Similarly, many other developed countries are pushing ahead with national legislation to tackle climate change. However, as climate change has global repercussions, tackling it requires action by nations on a global level. The EU and the UN are two organisations working towards implementing international legislation with a focus to achieving this. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1992 to serve as a forum for international conversation on tackling climate change. As part of UNFCCC, industrialised countries are encouraged to commit to pledges such as the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which sets internationally binding emission reduction targets. The UN is also responsible for the founding of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which, born out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, is dedicated to promoting global sustainable development. As part of the CBD, the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP) meet periodically to discuss potential advances to the Convention. The next meeting, COP21, is due to be held in Paris in 2015 and could bring with it a global consensus on climate change. The meeting will come as part of global negotiations on a post-2020 climate regime. By the end of the meeting it is hoped that all the nations of the world will be bound together for the first time by a universal agreement to tackle the effects of climate change. For David King, such an agreement is essential if a 2°C rise in temperature is to be avoided. “Sea level rises are currently at 26 cm,” he says, “and they are looking at reaching one metre by the end of the century unless an agreement is reached.” While the situation may seem bleak – terrifying even – the realisation of universal consensus at COP21 could bring about the global change that is so desperately needed. We will just have to wait until 2015 to see the outcome. Arena Environment Selling consumers the idea of eco-production Sustainable so-called eco-products are becoming more and more popular additions to the marketplace, as consumers increasingly choose to make informed decisions about the food they eat, the gadgets they use and the clothes they wear. The emergence of this new climate-savvy type of consumer has inevitably led to an increase in the presence of eco-producers in the marketplace. One company taking this approach, Rapanui Clothing, spoke to Global about the benefits of its production method. Rapanui is an eco-fashion company based on the Isle of Wight in the UK. The company uses factories powered by wind and solar power to produce clothing made from eco-textiles, the result of which is clothing products made sustainably from sustainable materials. While studying for a degree in renewable energy, Rapanui co-founder Mart Drake-Knight says he noticed his new-found knowledge making an impact on his own consumption habits – a phenomenon which is well-documented across the globe, as informed shoppers have proven to be increasingly likely to opt for more sustainable produce. As a response to this, Rapanui, like other eco-producers, has opted to present its entire supply chain to the consumer, allowing shoppers to see exactly how products are handled all the way from seed to shop. The company has utilised Google Maps to create a supply chain traceability map for all its products, a link to which is available on their website. Rapanui has also adopted the EU Ecolabel rating for its products, which rates clothes from A to G in terms of how sustainable they are. “It’s not that people don’t care about climate change,” Drake-Knight (pictured below, right) says, “it’s more that they don’t know about it, or don’t know how to do anything about it.” The big question about eco-production is the extent to which ethical sourcing dents profit margins. The short answer is that products made from sustainable resources, or in factories powered by renewable energy, are likely to be more expensive. But there are other benefits to these methods of production. Rapanui spends less on advertising than conventional competitors, as the company’s unique story engages people’s interests, leading to increased press coverage of the brand. “This means that we don’t have to spend 20 per cent of our annual overheads on marketing,” Drake-Knight says. “I pay a little more for a t-shirt, but I pay a lot less for advertising.” Eco-producers like Rapanui Clothing give consumers a green alternative www.global global four th quar ter 2014 -br ief ing.org l 57


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