CoP 21 in Paris: What (not) to expect?

The great social debate about climate change that has been taking place over the last twenty odd years has been plagued with controversy, disagreement, and confrontation. However, one notion coming out of this debate seems to be gaining almost universal acceptance. It is the notion that the future lies in a ‘decarbonised’ economy much less reliant on fossil fuels for its energy needs. It is slowly but surely gaining wide acceptance by governments, by some of the world’s largest corporations, and by individuals.
But, the process of ‘decarbonisation’ has just started, and it will be a long and challenging process that will be implemented in a very uneven way across the globe. So, don’t hold your breadth for the Paris conference that starts in a few days.
Besides all the sensationalist build-up of expectations, it is hard to believe that any major international treaty on climate change will be brokered in Paris. And perhaps that’s not as bad as it sounds. If the CoP 21 manages to deliver a strong message that will further support the nascent process of ‘decarbonisation’ by encouraging technological and institutional innovation, it would be a good outcome.
Human society has already embarked on a journey towards a future world much less reliant on fossil fuels. Single events, like the one in Paris, can speed up or slow down the journey, but cannot reverse its course. Nevertheless, at this early stage, it is important that such events fan some wind in the sails, and I hope the CoP 21 does exactly that!

Author: Tiho Ancev

Tiho Ancev is a Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the School of Economics, University of Sydney. His main research areas are agricultural, environmental, natural resource and energy economics. Tiho’s main contributions have been in water economics and policy, economics of energy, economics of air pollution and climate change policies, and economics of precision agriculture and agricultural input use. He has published widely on these topics in top international peer reviewed journals. Tiho has led and contributed to national and international research projects in these research areas. He is currently the Managing Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.