UMass Boston Hosts Vice President of the World Bank, Rachel Kyte
The Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank, Rachel Kyte, delivered an honest and lively talk about the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Paris next month titled “Climate at a Crossroads: How Can Paris Kickstart a Zero Carbon, Resilient Economy?” The event, which took place on November 10th, 2015 at the University of Massachusetts Boston, was co-sponsored by the Center for Governance and Sustainability, the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, School for the Environment, and the College of Management.
Rachel Kyte has championed a strong and successful fight for justice and sustainability. Among her many accomplishments are groundbreaking initiatives on carbon pricing, performance standards for sustainable finance, and support for the idea of “natural capital.”
She spoke about the challenges that negotiators will face in Paris, and how to implement the necessary actions that will lead to sustainable development worldwide. In her words, “with still two and a half weeks to go, we are already in a post-Paris spirit.”
She brought a positive and exciting outlook toward the future. No doubt there will be hard decisions and challenges ahead. But this is not a closed-package created by developed countries which is being imposed on developing nations. Rather, the initiatives proposed can serve as a roadmap. This is an emerging framework in global governance, whereby policy makers from many different countries can effectively collaborate with each other and “close down the space for silly politics.”
Rachel Kyte made it clear that the private sector has the potential to do great things, and even to co-finance public initiatives. But it is still up to the public sector and the international community of sovereign states to commit to certain guidelines and decide on a trajectory.
The most important message for the COP meeting in Paris is that “no matter where we started, each one of us needs to see each other as being on the same journey.” As Peyton Fleming notes in a recent piece about Kyte’s talk at UMass Boston, “She also chided institutional investors a bit for their parochialism—“they won’t invest south of the Alps”—on clean energy investing. Despite double-digit annual growth in developing countries, clean energy investing is still dominated entirely by multinational financial institutions. “Morocco is just as safe a market as Spain,” she said, highlighting the potential for healthy 7 percent investment returns. “(Investor) money isn’t moving as fast as it should be.”
Kyte also talked about this being a moment of inflection, when peer-to-peer pressure is increasing and when there is a great motivation among different parties to create a more sustainable economy. New structures in the private and financial sectors are leading the production of green energy and making it affordable to a large portion of the population. It is clear that “the cost of inaction is far greater than taking initiative now.”