Climate and safeguarding the planet



As the year just ended drew to a close, an extraordinary event took place that could lay the foundation for a slowdown in climate change. What occurred in Paris during the first days of December 2015 could mark an epic turning point in the efforts to save the planet. The agreement reached between the greatest nations on earth is decidedly ambitious, albeit with a few remaining doubts. The positive aspects, those that bode well for the future, include incentivizing technology for the decarbonisation of the economy, limiting global warming to 2°C (possibly 1.5°C), and providing financial support to the more vulnerable (and often poorer) countries for their economic and financial losses due to climate change. Furthermore, all these targets will be reviewed every five years in order for the countries to revise, if necessary, their emissions plans. It is clear that, as in all compromises, some aspects are still left to be addressed. For instance, a coalition of oil producing countries blocked the introduction of an initiative calling for the total elimination of the use of fossil fuels by the year 2060. The real weaknesses of the overall plan remain those regarding the schedule (pushed back to 2018-2023) and the control mechanisms. While the older industrialized nations asked for emissions certification to be carried out by international organizations, the emerging nations pushed for internal audits of their own emissions. This might prove to be the actual issue to tackle in order to avoid reaching the climate’s point of no return, frequently mentioned and closer than ever, that could truly mark the end of an era. The Paris agreement, in essence, pushes toward a “climate economy”, defined as a constant improvement and continuous transformation of our economy, which translates into a major boost and opportunity for technological innovation and development. In this regard, the more industrialized nations, as well as the high technology companies, will play a fundamental role. High tech companies, in fact, can and must produce sustainable innovation, focusing not only on production processes but also on all that revolves around these processes. In other words, a quantum leap must take place in the utilities sector in terms of energy production, water cycles, waste minimization, and the reutilization of byproducts. The effects of the Paris agreement on the Italian economy may be rather rapid, given our growing interest in the circular economy. Many manufacturers have already adopted these practices and some in the food industry are making rapid progress with technological innovations that are easily exportable and, thanks to the Made in Italy tradition, of benefit to the entire national economy.