2015 has been a truly remarkable year. It's also been a year of contrast.
Europe continues to be gripped by its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War as a consequence of the Civil War in Syria, tensions in the wider Middle East and the ongoing exodus of people from Eritrea escaping its oppressive regime. At the same time, we have witnessed governments, from both rich and poor countries, come together in a yearlong act of global cooperation which might just be historic. From the Financing for Development Conference to the Sustainable Development Summit, we found a way past our differences to lay a foundation for the future.
At least that's the hope - that's the potential.
Fulfilling an Agreement
The Paris Agreement may just be the defining moment for the century ahead.
In many ways, COP 21 captured the progress and the cooperation needed to fulfill the promise of 2015. The diplomatic force that saw 195 countries agree on the goal of keeping the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C, should not be underestimated. It's an agreement made by UN member states which, despite cynicism, means something. Of course, the agreement is just the start.
Closer examination of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by the countries that attended Paris, demonstrate a clear shortfall. These contributions will need to be strengthened in the coming years based on the planned five year cycle to prevent dangerous climate change. The work that will move us forward, and towards a clear path to 1.5C, is a challenge that will require support and action from business, government and civil society.
Putting Words into Action
The work we do to prevent dangerous climate change needs to go hand in hand with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We need to align the SDG ambition to end extreme poverty by 2030 with the need to limit the impacts of climate change.
I'm proud KPMG has signed the Carbon Price Communiqué that calls for a clear, transparent and robust price on carbon. I am also proud of the work we have been doing with the UN Global Compact on the SDG Industry Matrix to help businesses develop operating models and goods and services that serve the poor, while helping to ensure the transition to a low carbon economy.
KPMG has also joined more than 1,000 cities, companies and investors from around the globe in signing The Paris Pledge for Action. The Pledge demonstrates our commitment to support a quick and effective implementation of the Agreement. We are also already helping accelerate the transformative changes needed to meet the climate change challenge. For example, in the US we recently joined companies in supporting the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, making a commitment to purchase 100% renewable energy by 2020.
A Defining Moment
I said at the beginning of the year that I would continue to use my influence, and that of the business I work for and the organisations I am a part of, to ensure the message of change and the opportunity this represents for communities living in poverty and the world, will be made. I also said I would work with my colleagues to ensure that we help shape the debate and provide the solutions our clients need to meet and lead this change. We are doing this. We are assisting our clients in addressing both the risks and opportunities that will arise form a transition to a zero carbon and inclusive future.
Mary Robinson, Ireland's former President, said 2015 was the Bretton Woods moment for our generation. It think it has been.
It feels like Christmas has come early. Everything we have been discussing and debating since the Copenhagen climate change meeting in 2009 and the Rio Earth Summit in 2012, seems to have come together. It is what we do now that will be what define us though. Will 2015 be a wasted promise or a defining moment?
I hope it will be a defining moment and I believe that we can now build on this foundation for a sustainable future and take the actions necessary to deliver on the promise of 2015.
Here's to 2016!