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Oct 18, 2011

Businesses becoming more involved in climate talks

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The emergence of the low-carbon economy has witnessed business entities actively participating in climate change negotiations, and South African businesses have slowly caught up with the realities of getting involved, University of South Africa’s Professor Godwell Nhamo said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Institute for Global Dialogue climate change conference in Pretoria, he said business, which would probably carry much of the burden in the transition to a low-carbon economy through a new climate deal, were slowly becoming “genuine” in their approach to climate change.

However, Nhamo also alluded to some businesses being skeptical and “hunting for opportunities” rather than moving towards a collective solution to the challenges resulting from negative impacts of climate change.

Overall business would try to influence negotiations for a favourable position that would sustain operations.

This, Nhamo believed was evident, for example, at the fifteenth Conference of Parties climate conference, in Copenhagen, where business showed its interests in increasing funding for research and development, innovation and training, as well as promoting the development of enabling frameworks that would reduce costs for technology transfer and commerce.

In South Africa, Business Unity South Africa and the National Business Initiative were taking a critical role in climate change issues. He believed 2011 was the year that business involvement in climate change negotiations would likely peak.

Nhamo said there were opportunities, such as climate financing, green banking and green insurance, as well as risks linked to regulation, reputation, financial and the physical aspects associated with climate change.

He added that many calls have been made by business associations regarding what form the new climate deal must take.

“Business has accepted that it will not be business as usual in addressing climate change in future. Business has indicated the need for a new climate deal in which both adaptation and mitigation have equal importance,” he explained.

Adaptation, Nhamo said, was at the epicenter of all issues related to climate change, including technology, financing, capacity building and mitigation.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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