The partying may be over and the guests have all gone home. But which countries will be left with a climate change headache after the celebrations of the COP21?

Ah, the work Christmas party. The time of year where many people let their hair down, while others seemingly shave it off completely and cram their entire partying for the year into one heady evening of drinking, dancing and photocopying.

But simply getting people together for a good time can be like herding cats, whilst dividing up the bar bill at the end of the night can prove a headache as big as the one that follows the morning after.

So spare a thought for France, organisers of the COP21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties) climate change negotiations that took place over the last fortnight in vast hangars on the outskirts of Paris. It brought together a whopping 40,000 delegates from 195 countries to discuss and agree a plan to tackle climate change together.

The details of the text are still emerging, and it won’t come into force until it’s been ratified by at least 55 countries. Though legally binding, in practice much of the deal will still rely more on peer pressure and political vanity than targets and penalties to make it work.

It’s clear that some governments and businesses will feel more growing pains than others as they acclimatise themselves to a new lower-carbon world. Britain now needs to match its warm words with practical action. This will be no mean feat and involve a pretty abrupt volte-face on many steps taken here in the UK this year if we’re to keep our side of the global bargain.

The big winners will be leaders and organisations that see it as an opportunity and rise to the challenge, rather than a threat to be resisted at all costs. Countries such as Iceland and New Zealand, and companies such as Unilever, Marks & Spencer and IKEA, are showing the way.

A global gathering on the scale of COP21 was always going to involve disagreement and compromise. It also won’t cut pollution overnight, and is about weaning a world off fossil fuels slowly and steadily. But the potential for Britain to lead the world in technology and innovation to make that happen is there for the taking, if we want it badly enough. I’ll drink to that.

Mike Cheshire headshot
Mike Cheshire, account director

destroy