Critics of multilateral climate action have stepped up their attacks. They argue that change is not possible; that failure in last year's Copenhagen climate summit was inevitable as the public would never accept the cost of change towards a low-carbon future; nations will never concede their immediate economic interests; and that there is no prospect of collective climate change action. In their version of reality, the lowest common denominator rules. This narrative can be persuasive in times of austerity, but overlooks two critical points. Despite the political setback, investments in clean energy and efficiency continue to rise in response to policy change in developed economies like the European Union and the United States, or in emerging countries like China and India. International cooperation - together with solid national action - best serves even narrowly defined national interests on climate change. National welfare cannot be safeguarded if the world fails to deal with climate change and its resource challenges.
Bernice Lee, Research Director, Energy, Environment and Resource Governance, Chatham House