Climate change action: the clock is ticking

Climate change

As the 18th meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha gets going, I was reminded of this countdown clock developed by the University of Oxford called the trillionth tonne.

After the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, the hastily-compiled Copenhagen Accord agreed that it is crucial that the world limits average global temperature rises to below two degrees C. In order to do that, the global economy can get away with emitting a total of a trillion tonnes of carbon over its history, from the beginning of the industrial revolution.

As the trillion tonne clock shows: every moment of inaction makes the required rates of cuts even deeper, faster and more challenging. Also, this window of opportunity doesn't necessarily consider other risks like ocean acidification or big feedback loops such as the release of massive amounts of methane as previously frozen ground melts.

A legally binding international agreement on cutting carbon emissions, and the stronger international price on carbon as a result, would be of great help to all the organisations around the world trying to keep emissions below the trillionth tonne.

Business are trying, but we hope that you, the international community, can help us by achieving this strong global policy signal.

At Virgin, each of our companies are fighting hard to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the Virgin Green Fund invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Virgin Unite have helped launch initiatives like the Carbon War Room, who unlock gigaton-scale market-driven climate change solutions, and the Virgin Earth Challenge incentivises breakthroughs in scalable, sustainable ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

We have to screw business as usual before business as usual screws us all. After all, the trillion tonne clock is ticking...

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