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This week GreenBiz published an article examining how public concern over climate change has actually decreased in recent years, concluding that the business community has a responsibility to take action where political leadership has fallen short. The article points to the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as the turning point when public concern related to climate change reached a plateau. Author Sam Mountford also notes that other factors like the global recession have contributed to climate change taking a backseat to environmental concerns. Since Copenhagen, there has been little traction among world leaders toward developing a global response to climate change. Mountford, who is a director at London-based GlobeScan, concludes by arguing that the private sector has a responsibility to address climate change and help “to place the issue back on the public agenda.” There has been some progress on that front, including June’s Rio+20 conference where several global companies, including Microsoft, played a major role. CNN remarked that at Rio+20 businesses “have taken the lead by providing real examples of sustainable development.”
Elsewhere, The New York Times commented on a report released today by Climate Central questioning whether U.S. carbon emissions, which have declined nearly 9 percent since 2005, can keep falling. While some of the decline in emissions can be attributed to natural gas increasingly displacing coal as a major energy source, it’s believed that the recession has also contributed to the decline. As the economy strengthens, it is likely that emissions will rise again without additional actions to improve energy efficiency and bring more renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, onto the grid. At Microsoft we believe in purchasing renewable energy whenever possible, and the internal carbon fee that we announced in May will play an important role in encouraging the company to invest more in renewables.