My Cancun diary – Anne Kelly

As the Cancun talks reach their climax, Anne Kelly, co-director of policy at Ceres, a coalition of groups working with companies on sustainability, gives us her run down of the last week and a half:

The mantra that nothing will happen at Cop16 in Cancun misses the collaboration and creative thinking that occurs outside the Moon Palace.

At one reception, a confab of 200 businesses, NGOs and youth groups didn’t break up until 1.30am.

Included were a mix of big companies like Marriott and Microsoft and big dreamers, with names like Future 500, R-20, TckTckTck and NEXUS: Carbon for Development.

All had the same idea: businesses must move now to catalyse a low-carbon economy, they cannot wait for a global climate treaty.

Nike’s sustainable business and innovation VP Hannah Jones, who kicked off the evening, captured the optimistic tone in the crowd, noting that there was “$200 billion of business wealth” in the room and plenty of businesses with new strategies for scaling low-carbon solutions globally.

She closed with a sports metaphor. “Pele famously said, “I don’t go to where the ball is. I go to where the ball will be. The ball is the sustainable economy. It’s here now.”

Grabbing the ball and running with it, Coca-Cola’s Bryan Jacob worked the crowd, building support for banning HFC gases, a potent planet-warming gas used in refrigerants. Last week, 400 global consumer giants agreed to phase out HFCs, beginning in 2015;  the climate negotiators at the Moon Palace are also considering an outright ban. ”We could be completely out of HFCs by 2020. That’s huge,” Jacob said.

Reception host Stan Stalnaker of Hub Culture, a youth-inspired entrepreneur, was taking in new ideas for the launch of Climate Deal Day. Stainaker is infused with the sense of possibility born of successful past collaborations.  Noting the complexity and difficulty of cutting a deal at the global level, he’s created a day of deal making set for Jan. 26, 2011. His goal is “One gigaton in one day” from individual commitments, business deals and consumer retail sales that support carbon-reducing activities.

As Stainaker made the announcement, the room lit up with potential “deals” – some of them business swaps, others for taking it viral. Cards were exchanged.  Commitments were made. Optimism was restored.

Like the relentless natural beauty that surrounds Cancun’s monstrous hotels, a persistent sense of possibility surrounds Cop16. Hopefully, the cloistered delegates at the Moon Palace pick up on the positive vibe.

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