Tens of thousands of modern-day crusaders, charlatans, Nobel laureates, CEOs, quick-buck artists, earnest politicians and assorted movie extras of every conceivable socio-political-ethnic-economic background will descend on Copenhagen for the next three weeks to participate in an orgy of carbon-bashing and flag-waving.
The goal will be to agree on a blueprint—not quite the precise Earth owner’s manual that some had hoped for, but at least a quick-start guide for reducing greenhouse gas emissions fast enough so that the world avoids the most expensive and unpredictable consequences of climate change.
As the Danes clean up the mess when the party’s over on December 18th, the question becomes: What does this all mean on December 19th and beyond?
Starting on that day, as the heavy lifting begins for global negotiators who will be filling in the details of that blueprint, we will be inundated with advice, predictions, and hand-wringing on all sides.
Here’s a clip-and-save cheat sheet, suitable for framing or taping to your refrigerator, that will save you time—and money—as you try to crack the carbon code for yourself, your business and your investments:
These are just a few of the key dates to add to your carbon calendar, but if you pay attention to these milestones, everything else that comes from government or commerce will make sense. And if you happen to be in Denmark in December, don’t be surprised when the bar conversation turns from “What’s your sign?” to “What’s your carbon footprint?”
Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is a partner at Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank and the Cullman Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. (Cracking The Carbon Code is a registered trademark of Terry Tamminen).