Insight from a climate chief

Photo by Sanja Bojovic

In eight months, the global community will gather in Paris for a pivotal climate summit that is expected to set the direction and pace of transition to a low-carbon economy.

This April, the Council for Clean Capitalism partnered with Sun Life Financial to host Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate diplomat, for a breakfast discussion in Toronto at the St Andrew’s Club.

Some key points she delivered:

• The Paris Climate Summit is about accelerating a transition that is already under way to a more productive, lower-carbon economy. It is about laying down the policy anchors so that by 2050 we will be emitting only as much greenhouse gases as the planet can absorb. This means getting five times more economic development out of every tonne of carbon emissions as compared to now.
• The reality check is that the sum total of global efforts to deal with climate change is pathetically insufficient in contrast to what the science is telling us is required.
• What is Plan B if Paris fails? There is no Plan B because we have no Planet B.
• The good news is we have turned the corner. Last year was the first year in mankind’s history where we didn’t have an increase in greenhouse gases while the economy grew.
• This is going to be less about sticks and more about carrots, big fat beautiful carrots.
• The low-carbon economy is about higher productivity and more competitiveness, but also de-risking exposure to volatile fossil commodity prices.

A final point Figueres made was that short-termism, as a species, is about to disappear. For our full interview with Figueres click here.


The Council for Clean Capitalism is a group of forward-thinking companies that seek public policies in support of an economic system in which prices incorporate social, economic and ecological benefits and costs, and people know the full impacts of their marketplace actions.

Council Members:
Catalyst Paper, The Co-operators Group, Hewlett-Packard Canada, Interface, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Sun Life Financial Canada, Teck Resources, TELUS, Vancity, Brookfield Johnson Controls, and Desjardins.

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