This article from Climate Progress seems to summarise the recent events well:
“…we generally grade ourselves on the basis of what we think was plausibly achievable, not what is theoretically possible.
On that basis, the Durban Agreement or Durban Platform (details here) was a pretty big success, committing the entire world — not just rich countries — to develop a roadmap for reductions, along with a serious Green Climate Fund.
It’s worth noting that the alternative was not a binding agreement to stabilize at 2°C ( 3.6°F) warming, but a complete collapse of the international negotiating process.
On the other hand, from the perspective of what is needed to avert catastrophic climate change, the agreement was, sadly, lacking”.
Climate Action Tracker says that:
“The Climate Action Tracker scientists stated, however, that the agreement will not immediately affect the emissions outlook for 2020 and has postponed decisions on further emission reductions.
They warned that catching up on this postponed action will be increasingly costly.
The Climate Action Tracker estimates that global mean warming would reach about 3.5°C by 2100 with the current reduction proposals on the table. They are definitely insufficient to limit temperature increase to 2°C.
A warming over 3°C could bring the world close to several potential global-scale tipping points, such as:
o Possible dieback of the Amazon rainforest
o Corals reefs being irreversibly replaced by algae and sea grass
o Irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheets of many centuries to thousands of years
o Risk of release of methane hydrates in ocean floor sediments further adding to the warming
o Permafrost thawing due to fast rising arctic temperatures”
So not a total collapse, but if the science is right (and I suspect it is, much as I would like it not to be) then continuous pressure will be needed on Governments between now and 2015 (and beyond).
The corporate take-away from Durban then, is simply this:
Large companies and their executives, particularly their CEOs, will now need to play an ever more active role in positive government lobbying and showing support for real, generally agreed science.
If your CEO does not understand climate change and its ramifications, a crash course is needed. Now.
The business case for carbon reductions is clear, except in a few sectors, such as power generation and transport, from whom it threatens their very existence as they know it today. They will fight tooth and nail to avoid fundamental change. Many already are.
It’ll be up to the rest of business to persuade government that those sectors need urgent reform: And that this can be successfully sold to voters in democratic election cycles.
The biggest job of the ‘sustainability movement’ still lies ahead, and with a tight deadline.