The view from Paris – 1.5 degrees of history

The last climate talks in Lima overran by a day or two, but back then they were only really talking about a holding position to adopt. This time the delayed resolution was worth waiting for. After all-night sessions at December’s UN-sponsored COP21 climate summit in Paris, the memorandum reported something momentous. Participating nations would, after all, sign up to a legally binding agreement limiting global temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2ºC above pre-industrial levels with an acceptance, brokered by the nations most at risk from climate impacts, that 1.5ºC was the implicit objective. It was a result the world needed in order to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. We’d love to think that, thanks to our work with Climate-KIC, we played our part!

As the EU’s flagship climate change mitigation and adaptation programme, Climate-KIC unites business, science, government and citizens in a drive to build a low-carbon economy in Europe. In addition to designing banners and event collateral for Climate-KIC’s stand at COP21 in Paris, we’ve been writing and designing the printed and digital materials that help a highly networked community stay connected both internally and externally. As part of our work with Climate-KIC we help a yearly crop of entrepreneurial cleantech start-ups to present their best case for investment funding in line with Climate-KIC’s goal of accelerating innovation to market.

Between June and December 2015, in the run-up to the COP21 climate summit, Climate-KIC’s ‘Road to Paris’ initiative visited 27 countries to celebrate the people and projects already shaping a positive climate change story across Europe. Did you know that the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 hosted by Austria was the greenest ever, for example, or that songstress Björk has helped design a climate-aware learning programme for schools in her native Iceland? Says Belinda at bbelieve: ‘As it continues its rise up the political agenda, climate change is also increasingly part of the landscape of everyday thinking for Europe’s young people, and for us all.’

What we said then – hats off to Greenpeace

In 1997 and 1998 we wrote the text for Greenpeace International’s annual report. Guess what topped the agenda back then? No surprises – global warming was the number one story. The environmental campaigning organisation was reporting on progress (or the lack of it) towards an agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate summits, with the fossil fuel lobby cast as villains of the piece. The road to the COP21 Paris conference in December 2015 has been long and winding indeed. It’s taken 20 years for climate change alarm, once the preserve of ‘mavericks’ like Greenpeace International, to come in from the cold.

Here’s what we wrote for Greenpeace in 1997. The Kyoto climate agreement marked a turning point: the conference signalled the need to expand renewable energy industries and to begin to phase out fossil fuels in the face of an inescapable logic. And here’s 1998. It was the hottest year on record – again. Yet the climate summit in Argentina failed to take action to tackle one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. Instead, it was the economic self-interest of the fossil fuel industry that usurped the agenda.

Almost two decades later the whole tenor of the climate change debate has altered. Says Barry at bbelieve: ‘What’s striking is the extent to which climate has become a mainstream boardroom topic. The tone of the conversation has shifted fundamentally towards a recognition that we’re all in this together.’ Meanwhile, Greenpeace continues to campaign on behalf of future generations, with a focus on renewables and on action, for example, to stop the smog from Indonesia’s forest and peatland fires. What hasn’t changed is the idea that actions, not words, matter most. Hang on a minute – weren’t 2014 and 2015 also the hottest years on record?

Things we bbelieve in – #1 in a series to cut out and keep

Words will bring us together – in corporate communications as in life. You wouldn’t expect us to have it any other way, would you? That’s why we’re members of 26, the writers’ group that exists to promote a love of words in business and in life. The nice people at 26 have produced a rather handsome booklet (designed by M&S creative director Rodney Mylius and hand-printed using hot metal type) with pithy, personal thoughts on why writing matters in business. We have ten copies of The Book of Because to give away free on a first-come-first-served basis. Just contact us here with the address you want us to mail it to. Oh, and please, please also complete this sentence so that we can publish the best ones in a future newsletter. Writing matters in business because …