(CHK) Climate Change: At What Price Growth?

South Africa is playing host to the climate conference, which opens today in the city of Durban. Climate change conferences focus on reducing global temperatures, which appear to accelerate global warming.

The Kyoto Protocol (1997), the game-changer in climate negotiations had identified developed countries as primarily responsible for high levels of green house gas emissions following decades of unbridled industrialization. The protocol requires countries to lower emissions according to pre-agreed targets.

The commitment period that started in 2008 will conclude in 2012. Therefore, the Durban conference comes at an important juncture. Governments had agreed last year that emissions need to be reduced to keep global temperature rises at less than 2 degrees Celsius. However, according to EU negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger, recent reports caution that the world was looking at warming up by up to 4.5 degrees.

Economic expansion, which started with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th -19th century in Europe, Japan and North America, and spread to other parts of the globe, has fueled income and population growth across the world – a feat unparalleled in the preceding centuries. Global warming and climate change appear to be the harmful derivatives of economic growth.

The U.S. is making a conscious effort to financially support the climate change program with other nations by participating in an assistance fund. The country is at the same time trying to move away from fossil fuels to shale gas and other renewable sources like, solar and wind. This is a feasible energy strategy because not only are shale gas, solar and wind energy cheap, but they are clean too.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) and Devon Energy Corporation (DVN) are renewing focus on their core competence in gas. Majors such as ConocoPhillips (COP) and ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM) are investing in smaller players with sizable stakes in big shale fields. First Solar Inc (FSLR), a leading US-based solar energy player is focusing on solar project construction in response to the increasing demand from project owners like, the US government, corporates and institutions.

The world is facing issues that need critical attention at this point in time, namely the economic crisis in Europe. However, climate change is no less serious because of its far-reaching and irreversible impact.

Durban hopefully will be able to draw up a concrete way-forward plan to lower greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and settle issues germane to funding this global cause. It should at the same time be able narrow down differences among nations on the gravity of climate change.

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