I attended a lunchtime seminar at the Royal Commonwealth Society yesterday. Here Henry Bellingham, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, spoke to us about the unique position of the Commonwealth in tackling in climate change. The Commonwealth has such a broad range of countries within its 54 country membership, from ‘every global interest' but with a common mindset and a sense of unity. This Bellingham says is what puts the Commonwealth in such a strong and unique position in international climate change negotiations.
32 of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are part of the Commonwealth and are already starting to feel the effects of climate change.
Bellingham went to argue this makes it even more important to ratify a global deal, but realistically acknowledging this is still a long way away. He spoke of the need to lead through example, to say ‘follow me, instead of after you'. However – EEF has long argued – is anyone actually following, or are we in Europe, with the EU ETS, just ploughing ahead blindly?
I believe that Bellingham actually gave a realistic alternative that still show leadership, but through a different approach: the low carbon economy.
If we, in the in the developed economies can prove that decarbonising can still mean growth, this will act as an incentive for others to follow; the current system of cap and trade that adds unilateral costs to Europe production and simply outsources our carbon emissions is not attracting any takers and a different approach is needed.
The challenge then is to foster this new kind of environment, and for the Commonwealth to challenge us to show leadership here to prove that green can mean growth.