Bob Gottfried is the Founder of ACE Clinics in Toronto, Ontario.

World Leaders Attend COP21 To Address Climate Change

BobGottfried-COP21The world is on the cusp of a momentous shift in the climate change discussion. Leaders from around the globe are in Paris to participate in this year’s Conference of the Parties 21, or COP21, a United Nations conference designed to facilitate dialogue between countries on how to effectively combat rapidly rising temperatures. Some of the primary goals include unifying the effort to improve the sustainability of private industry, civil society, and consumers.

Recent studies indicate that should the planet get as little as two degrees warmer, the effect on a worldwide scale would be catastrophic. Mankind has before experienced a climate scenario like it. Since the Industrial Revolution and following abuse of fossil fuels, more carbon has entered the atmosphere than would have ever occurred by natural processes. This has exacerbated the greenhouse gas effect tremendously, leading to an exponential increase in temperatures as the atmosphere traps and holds in heat. Among the direct consequences already witnessed are a global jump in hurricane strength, a dramatic drop in marine life, a worsening food supply crisis, rising sea levels, and so much more. All of this influences our ability to maintain economic, social, and military order.

Another pressing challenge on the table is the need to reverse the degradation and deterioration of natural forests all around the world. The effects of this trend has been dramatic, leading to terrible events like an intensification of the El Niño effect, the displacement of entire communities, and widespread health issues. COP21 is an opportunity to agree upon and roll out aggressive policy to make a change.

To achieve these ends, building productive partnerships and adopting a multi-stakeholder approach is non-negotiable. Public-private cooperation is key to responsibly balancing the demand for land in terms of economic development with the need to conserve resources. Properly managing landscape is absolutely critical to handling problems like deforestation, and to do that, every relevant party has to be on the same page. Of particular importance are peatlands, who act as a crucial carbon sink in the reduction of greenhouse gases.

An additional component to consider is the role of finance. Adjusting the way we think about lending and investing can totally transform the interaction between capital and supply chains, especially as relates to forestry and other finite natural resources. Ultimately, we need to create a reality in which trees are recognized as more valuable standing than being cut down. Governments must seriously re-evaluate their financing mechanisms and accounting systems to reconsider the tremendous value conserving the planet and mitigating climate change absolutely does offer. It may be the longest-term investment in the mix, but it also the most important.