Cameron Hepburn

Super solution to climate change

Hepburn, C. (2009), Australian Broadcasting Corporation, December 2010.

The United Nations conference on climate change kicked off to decent start last week, with negotiations producing some early wins.

Significantly, it also brought the announcement by ATP, the largest Danish pension fund, that it was committing €1 billion (A$1.6 billion) to investing in low-carbon infrastructure. Without such large-scale shifts in the pattern of investment, it will be impossible to stabilise and then reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Inevitably it is the big players — the institutional investors such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds — who have the cash and the long-term outlook required to make the investment on the necessary scale.

But it is amazing what a difference a week can make. This week, the Bella Centre was transformed into a fortress. Security was tightened, demonstrators came out in force and most NGO observers were ejected. The snow came down, the heads of state arrived, and the mood noticeably shifted.