“I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

At a recent conference in California, venture capitalist John Doerr addressed the crowd.  He was discussing climate change, and how both business and governments have a responsibility to take immediate action.  As he looked at his 15 year old daughter sitting in the front row, he choked up and said, “I’m scared.  I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

Somehow that hit me hard.  I’ve always believed that we have all of the technologies available to solve the problem of climate change.  I still believe that.  All that we lack is the policy environment to deploy the technologies on a wide scale.  I still believe that.  Stephen Harper’s announcements of rehashed Liberal policies over the past month are only just the beginning of the solution.  But there always seemed to be hope that the policy framework could be improved, and that the low carbon efficient technologies could be deployed.

But now I’m not so sure.  Even if we have progressive government policy, and a motivated population, it still takes years to deploy new capital goods.  Vehicles need to be replaced with efficient vehicles, bicycles, and public transit.  Coal plants need to be replaced with non emitting technologies.  Appliances, lights, and homes need to be made more efficient, and installed.   Biofuels need to take up more of the gas and deisel tanks.  It is a massive job that will take decades.

But we have barely begun.  And I am not convinced the new targets and dates that Canada is going to set will be enough.  Then of course there is India, China, the US.  It is not enough for just us to work on the problem.  We need others to work on it too.

Are we going to make it?  Do we have a choice?

I’d say we had better get to work.

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