The reaction to last week's IPCC report has been interesting. Although there was an all-too-familiar spat about the view of an individual academic and the prominence given by some in the media to dissenting voices, I thought the reaction of many commentators, in politics, media and business was 'workmanlike' to coin a somewhat outdated phrase.
Focus seemed to be on action. The scientists have spoken - again - so what do we do now? Although there is a debate about the balance between mitigation and adaptation, it's pretty clear to most people that we need to do both. And if we don't do enough of the former, we give ourselves a potentially impossible task on the latter.
Translating the science into tangible and practical action has therefore been on my mind more than ever in recent weeks, at a time when - as usual - Green Building Council activities have spanned a wide range of issues, with a variety of different stakeholders. Inevitably, it got me thinking about the respective roles of government and industry in responding to the challenge we face.
As someone who believes in the power of politics and government to affect positive change, not to mention it being a major part of my day job, I will always look to government to provide the enabling policies required. But I don't think there's any question that at the moment, the most progressive businesses are way ahead of government when it comes to showing leadership on climate change and sustainability.
Last week, I spent half a day with participants in our 'Future Leaders' programme, who are on a year-long programme of leadership and innovation. Roughly 5-10 years into their careers they have been identified by their CEOs as rising stars in their organisations. The buzz around the room was palpable as the working groups shared their early 'breakthrough' ideas for new business models, which they will be pitching to our (senior) Leaders' Network in the autumn, challenging the way incumbents currently do business.
What was noticeable was the extent - or lack of it - that government featured. There was a strong sense that the new ventures being planned had to stand on their own two feet. The proposition had to be bankable, scalable and attractive to businesses or consumers - and driven by some sort of purpose at its heart - whether environmental, or socio-economic.
Another example of industry leadership comes this week, with the snappily titled 'Embodied Carbon Week'. It does exactly what it says on the tin, raising the issue of embodied carbon in construction up the agenda. What again is notable is that this has been entirely industry-driven, by the likes of British Land, Derwent London, Land Securities and Tishman Speyer albeit with some welcome support from WRAP.
This is clients saying "we think this is an important issue we need to get to grips with", and actively engaging the supply chain in how they address it. There are significant implications for policy but I hold limited hope that this is something Government has the time or inclination to engage with.
However, for all that this industry leadership is encouraging, there will always be a role for government in levelling the playing field. For every Kingfisher or M&S, who are innovating and meeting higher standards, there will be others who need the minimum standard of regulation to be raised. Zero carbon commercial buildings is a classic example, where only government can set out what the national minimum requirements will be - to provide that certainty needed for future investments and raise the bar on the laggards. We're still waiting for that one, by the way.
And there will always be a role for government in correcting market failure, or stimulating new markets. A good example should be the existing housing stock, where we so clearly need better incentives for householders to make energy efficiency improvements; greater subsidies to stimulate a market for Solid Wall Insulation; and where there is a strong argument for greater levels of public investment, particularly for those mired in fuel poverty.
The relationship between government and private sector at the moment is hugely dysfunctional and far too susceptible to political cycles. Do you remember the Green Economy Council, launched with aplomb in 2011? Thought not. It is a committee designed to help government and industry work together to support the transition to a green, low carbon economy. Fantastic idea, but it hasn't had a full formal meeting since January 2013. To state the obvious, this is something both government and industry need to work on. If the IPPC is not the stimulus needed to sort this relationship out, what is?