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World Climate Summit: Innovation, profits, energy-efficiency and China

The first day of the World Climate Summit is drawing to a close, but what better way to end the day than with perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated discussion of the entire event. Titled 'Innovative approaches to energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources', you can probably see why interest levels were so high.

During the panel, three topics kept cropping up: energy-efficiency, China and targets.

Of these, it was the latter that garnered some of the most passionate outbursts. In fact, this has been a theme throughout much of the event, with several speakers having highlighted some of the benefits of implementing clear energy-efficiency goals earlier in the day.

This discussion looked to be heading in a similar direction, with Niels Christiansen, the president and CEO of Danfoss, offering up China as a good example of the effectiveness of targets. According to Christiansen, the People's Republic has dramatically stepped up its energy-efficiency act as a direct consequence of setting clear objectives to meet.

Much of the panel agreed, until Veerle Vandeweerd of UNDP stepped forward. "I think we should stop dreaming," she said. According to Vandeweerd, setting targets and spending years negotiating time limits can become an endless activity, which can prove detrimental in the long run. What is instead needed is more analysis and more action.

Something that has to be improved, according to Vandeweerd, is education. If people are more aware of the impacts of using fossil fuels inefficiently, a significant change is more likely to come about. Similarly, a culture change needs to occur within businesses, where only profits determine success. In other words, businesses need to see the bigger picture.

Christiansen also believes that more cash needs to be pumped into the development on new solutions. "There's no doubt in my mind we've under-invested in energy-efficiency," he said.

However, the panelists were also keen to clarify that a lot still needs to be done in order to bring about clear changes in the world of green energy. "The key is innovation," said Philippe Castanet of EDF Poland. "There is no one magic solution."

The session was unfortunately cut short due to time restraints, but ITProPortal managed to catch up with Dr Christoph Frei, who moderated the debate, to gain a deeper insight into environmental matters.