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Letter from Cancún: We Need to Spark A Climate Change

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10th Dec 2010

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Letter from Canc n: We Need to Spark A Climate Change

I arrived in Canc n, Mexico at the end of November to work on opening the Hub Culture Canc n Pavilion, a collaboration and networking space for the Hub Culture social network and partners like Nike, CERES and others. After doing a similar Hub project in Copenhagen last year, my expectations around action on the climate issue were dismal at best - there was, is, and remains, little hope of a global deal addressing climate change. After last year, everyone seems to have given up on the politicians, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. This year, to my surprise, the energy and momentum around positive change has been incredible. After last year's failure, businesses and NGOs have started to do what we really needed all along: innovate and cooperate, focusing on positive solutions, not doom and gloom sacrifices. Its shifted from a race to the bottom to a race to the top. Negative to Positive.
The political process around the whole climate topic, combined with what I think are sometimes narrow views among scientists and NGOs, mixed with money issues (everybody needs it) make the climate issue a very charged one. There are lots of sensitivities, agendas, and competing causes for a world filled with too many problems and not enough money or resources to solve them.
But wait. There's no shortage of capital in the world. And there are still resources left to manage intelligently. The fact is, we're using both VERY inefficiently, and that's just dumb. We need to start reallocating our resources and capital toward efficiency and leapfrog innovations - in all our businesses, and in each of our lives. Individual dominoes. Organizational planning. The "climate" topic has come to be dominated by C02, rich vs. poor, and left vs. right. All of that is SO last century. We now live in one networked world, where national considerations can not move as quickly as the people they govern, and "the network" has more power to affect change than a bunch of "leaders". We're moving from the world of 500 billion plastic bags to the world of 5 billion networked phones, fast.
So here's a proposal. Let's stop fighting about 20th Century Constructs and start building 21st Century Solutions. Everyone can agree we need clean water, less pollution and packaging, jobs with a future, and smart innovations to make the world better. Who can argue with that? Not the network, because its what we all want. We need to adapt incentives so inefficiencies in this area don't make sense for any country, organization, or individual.
To do this, we need to start thinking differently about how we talk about these things. We need to fix the climate of our conversation, and get everyone onto the same mission: to make the world better. That means everyone working to do so, especially otherwise smart folks the climate community feel they can't deal with. We need energy to run our economies, and a lot of energy is dirty, right now. We just need to fix it. The only way we can fix the problems we face is to cooperate - everyone, and put aside the differences that fracture what are often good ideas along other agendas. The network doesn't fracture, it connects. We need to start thinking like the Network.
The result of this shift in our social climate is a race to the top. Over the last week, I've met more interesting people doing the coolest things - often in a networked way. Climate junkies and businesses with a stake in green outcomes are the main people who came to COP16 and Canc n this year, but the attitude has been so different. It's been all about the deal. How are we going to make a deal to manifest the progress we need? Because our leaders aren't doing it doesn't mean we can't. What's your deal?
The losers are the ones who just can't see the shift underway, and they're going to miss out on billions as the Network builds a clean, green, rich economy.
In short, while our leaders still need to work on climate change, we the people need to work on a climate change.
Our New Deal on this is to network over 1000 of our members from organizations large and small to spark an idea we hope will gather momentum: Climate Deal Day - January 26th, 2011. It's a day for everyone to do their own climate related deals. It's being announced tomorrow at Noon with a single tweet and status update. We'll help curate, and we hope you, the Network, will take it from there.
Stan Stalnaker
Founder, Hub Culture