11/11/2015 02:40 EST | Updated 11/11/2016 05:12 EST

Climate Action Is A Win-Win Situation


I'll soon be chairing a conference in London featuring clever people (and me) discussing global energy and climate challenges. This and the big Paris climate bash got me wondering -- am I helping to save the planet, or helping to destroy it? Am I the good guy, or the bad?

I'd like to think I do my bit. I walk or use public transport to/from work each day. I've put in one of those Nest thermostats that makes the house warm when it needs to be and not so warm when it doesn't. I take re-usable bags to the grocery store.

But does that make me an eco-warrior? Hardly. I've taken over 400 flights in five years. If it's silly cold, I'll grab a cab or the car. I buy bottled water now and again. Nothing grates more than a low iPad battery.

Globally, we need Paris to agree an action plan by all countries -- Britain and Canada included -- demonstrating a real shift off business as usual. And a set of clear internationally legally binding rules that all countries must abide by, to ensure transparency and accountability, level the playing field for business, make Governments deliver on their promises, and provide confidence to both businesses and countries. Division and polarization should stay at left luggage at Charles de Gaulle.

It's a similar story locally. After over three years in Canada, I find the energy/climate discussion polarized. None more so than in the aftermath of President Obama's Keystone decision last week.

This is unhelpful.

Are you pro-industry, or do you care about your grandchildren? Is it tar sands (there, I said it..) or oil sands? Do you hate dirty oil, or celebrate clean coal? Alberta's climate change panel, ably chaired by Dr Andrew Leach, is doing important work. Canada raising (or rather lowering) its game on emissions is surely a good thing. But some are worried, citing competitiveness (though $50 oil, probably for some time, is a bigger headache).

It is perfectly possible to talk about energy and climate in the same breath. It is not a tussle between good and bad. Whether you're government, a oil major, an advocate, a journalist or an observer, it's about doing the right things, in the right way, and sooner rather than later.

Take the challenges faced by Canada and Britain. Getting people out of their cars. Keeping the lights on via renewable means. Improving energy efficiency. Successful oil and gas industries employing thousands. Action on emissions. Burning less coal. These can all be done together.

Yet some suggest that one is more important than the other. That good action on one is bad for another.

That's not how I see it. Avoiding the most damaging effects of climate change could free up trillions of dollars over the next 20 years to invest in economic growth -- green means cash.

Anyway, back to me. I've been thinking about how I can become greener. One top tip on the internet advised sharing your shower with your partner, use less water and all that.

Which I suppose illustrates my point -- action on climate can be win-win situation.


Climate Change: 10 Beautiful Places Under Threat