Delegates are calling for global regulation that directly addresses climate change at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But can business, government and scientists agree on a solution that could actually have some impact on a global scale?I have just come from a lively debate around the role that global corporations should play in trying to control climate change. It has been no surprise to see the environment dominate every discussion group I have attended, so it was great to immerse myself in some in-depth conversation about who is responsible for making the necessary changes to business practice.
Everyone at the breakfast agrees that action needs to be taken, but agreeing on what those steps are isn't quite so simple. There is one school of thought that emerging markets such as India and China should be reining back their industrial development and implementing only environmentally friendly processes. However, the other camp believes that the already developed western markets such as the U.S. and Europe have had free reign for so many years that these are the markets that should be leading the charge for more carbon-neutral living.
While we could get hung up on the debate about who is to blame for the current situation and where the charge needs to start, the more pressing issue is to agree on what changes need to be made. All of the delegates agree that some form of global regulations for the business community have to be defined. There are currently a number of directives around the world that only relate to relatively small regions when it comes to the use of hazardous waste or polluting materials. For any really meaningful changes to be made, it needs to be agreed and managed on a global scale.
In addition to discussions about standards, the overwhelming feeling was that any action that is taken within the commercial sector cannot succeed, firstly, without embracing new technology, but more importantly without total support from governments and individuals across the globe. As we have already seen, the actions of relatively few countries can have a massive and often negative impact on other areas of the globe. Imagine the positive change that could be made if the whole world agreed to move in the same direction.
In the absence of any regulatory mechanisms, one proposal put forward was that a financial incentive/disincentive scheme could be implemented by financial institutions. Companies would be fined for using or producing products on a pre-agreed 'blacklist,' but are rewarded when they reduce their carbon footprint. While climate change has undoubtedly been the phrase on everyone's lips for the past couple of days, another interesting area that has come up on multiple occasions is the emergence of Asia and the BRIC economies as a key area of expansion for some of the world's largest investment banks. As the balance of power is shifting away from traditional markets, the general consensus seems to be that more attention needs to be paid to the more affluent societies that are emerging in areas such as Asia.
This is an area I anticipate discussing further when I attend a session on 'Banking for the un-banked' later today. I am interested to see how the financial sector is planning to embrace the millions of people around the world who have no access to banking of any kind and what impact this will have on the global economy.
Ashok Vemuri, SVP and head of banking and capital markets for Infosys Technologies, is attending his first World Economic Forum. He will be blogging about his experiences and the role of technology in the financial markets throughout his stay in Davos. Delegates are calling for global regulation that directly addresses climate change at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But can business, government and scientists agree on a solution that could actually have some impact on a global scale? Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio