QCOSTARICA – Almost a decade ago, Al Gore scared the world with an Academy Award-winning documentary that argued climate change was real and inaction could destroy the planet.
But as global leaders gear up to negotiate an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions in December, the doomsday scenario in “An Inconvenient Truth” has given way to campaign led by U.N. climate chief, Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres that plays up the economic benefits of taking action – whether that be shifting to an economy fueled by clean energy or getting into the business of selling this technology to countries looking to shift away from fossil fuels.
“The United States or China or Tuvalu, to choose a tiny little economy – none of them are doing this to save the planet. Maybe it surprises you that I say that,” Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told CBS News in an exclusive interview.
“Let’s be realistic here,” she continued. “All of these countries are putting their best foot forward because they understand it’s good for their economies. And that is the most powerful driving force – the self interest of every country is what is behind all of these measures.”
Figueres’ comments come as the International Energy Agency on Friday concluded that renewable energy will represent the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years, driven by falling costs and aggressive expansion in emerging economies. In a new report, the IEA projected that the growth will top 700 gigawatts – more than twice Japan’s current installed power capacity – and will account for almost two-thirds of net additions to global power capacity.
Figueres, who has been around the negotiations since the 1990s when she was part of the Costa Rican negotiating team, said she expects things will be different this time around.
“I’m doing it for the next generation. Most people who are working on climate change are doing it because of that as well,” said Figueres, who laughed off a suggestion this could be a good resume builder should she have presidential aspirations in Costa Rica. “It’s young people right now who are actually in dire straits if we don’t get this solved, if we don’t get this back on track.”
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