Climate Justice as Business Case

In Deutsch lesen: Climate Justice als Business Case

According to current state of knowledge greenhouse gas emissions have at least to be halved in order to restrict global warming to 2 degrees celsius. This implies a massive reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions in OECD countries, amounting up to 80% compared to 1990.

But also in threshold countries and non-industrialised poor countries development of greenhouse gas emissions must, first, be decoupled radically from the projected economic development and, subsequently, reduced in order to achieve this goal.

Else, the future greenhouse emissions from these countries will thwart the endeavours of the industrialised countries. This prospect is based on an estimate of a business-as-usual development from the viewpoint of sustainability that is rather optimistic.

To strive to improve one’s standard of living, including the material dimension thereof, is a right that cannot be denied to anyone. Furthermore, it is internationally recognized under the term „right to development“. The countries of the south will claim this right, in such a way that their economic possibilities will increase, their markets will grow , modern consumer goods will be acquired in massive quantities and their economies will follow a path of development analogous to the one outlined by the industrialised countries.

Within the framework of the climate conventions all states agreed on protecting the climate according to their „common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities“.The leading elites of the south share the apprehension that ambitious climate protection commitments will withdraw financial resources from the struggle against poverty in their countries and hamstring their economic development. At the international climate negotiations these deliberations were important orientations for their negotiation strategy.

As long as no convincing solution exists that ensures climate politics is feasible without hampering the development of the south, the leading delegates of the developing countries will conclude that their countries will rather lose than win from a dedicated commitment to climate protection.

Governments of OECD countries, the EU and the UNO have to face this dilemma and do so. But they do not always speak the same language as business does. There are already first ideas and proposals concerning technology transfer, funding of mitigation in the south, hand over of intellectual property rights and other aspects of this dilemma. But these ideas may appear in the shape of risks and threats to those members of the business community which, ironically, already contributed much to the positive developments concerning climate change.

But economic development always bears business opportunities, new emerging markets and technological advancement. It is important to focus on the auspicious prospects of this challenge and not on the apprehensions triggered by the demands of the threshold countries. Indeed, world economy will change under the imperative of climate justice, but does that imply negative consequences for business? It certainly does if business loses the initiative instead of contributing to the shape of the future.

Can business contribute to a solution for the crucial problems depicted above? And, hence, contribute to climate justice? Is there perhaps even a Business Case concerning climate justice for European business? How can technology transfer into developing countries be accomplished in a way that supports their mitigation efforts and, at the same time, furthers economic development instead of hampering it , in a way that constitutes an opportunity for European business?

These are the questions e5 raised in 2008 and 2009 at several events in preparation for the international climate negations in Copenhagen. e5 continued to follow this topic in a project dealing with forest conservation/afforestation in developing and rapid industrialising countries.

For further information please refer to

Julio Lambing
Managing Director (e5)


  • 2011/2012 – Forest Conservation, Afforestation and Climate Justice – Natural Carbon Capture: Business Models for Sustainable Development
    A Stakeholder Dialogue Project. More Information here.
  • 2009/2010 – Climate Justice: Technology Transfers as scenario of opportunities for the German economy
    German conference series. More information here.