Porto Summit 2018 Barack Obama

Climate Change Leadership Porto Summit 2018: collaboration key says Obama

Barack Obama

Porto Summit 2018: Barack Obama delivers his keynote speech

It has been a surreal last week.  A meet and greet with Barack Obama, 44th US President, at the Climate Change Leadership Porto Summit 2018 on 6th July.  And being circled by his successor or, more accurately, Marine One, since my neighbourhood was on the flight path/holding pattern for Trump’s London visit. 

Held by business, for business, the Climate Change Leadership Porto Summit 2018 saw the launch of the Porto Protocol – a pan-industry initiative to organise around the fight to adapt to and mitigate climate change because, said Adrian Bridge of co-sponsor Taylor’s Port, “there’s no time to reinvent the wheel.”

Obama delivered a typically inspirational keynote speech at the Porto Summit 2018 about businesses’ role in this fight.  Whilst, he said, Trump’s recent announcement to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement is bad news, the good news is, “even if there is a rolling back of regulations [aimed at contain rising greenhouse gas emissions], they have been adopted by commercial interests who see them as good business sense and, as you see the unit price of solar and wind energy drop,…there is no reason this won’t continue.”  

The former president called on businesses to share best practice, publicise the impact of climate change, put a figure on adaptation costs and exert pressure on governments to care about climate change.   You can find more on the resonances of Obama’s speech and the Porto Protocol for the wine industry in my Decanter news report.

Other high profile speakers outlined ways in which business can help.  You can now download the presentations of Professor Mohan Munasinghe (The IPCC Solutions to Climate Change), Irina Bokova (Climate Change and World Heritage) and Juan Verde (Climate Change & Green Economy) here.

The Porto Summit sets the scene for another Porto/business-led initiative – the wine industry-focused Climate Change Leadership Solutions Conference in Oporto on 6 and 7 March 2019, which is aimed at an international audience.

Recent extreme weather events in Portugal, which reflect Europe-wide climate change patterns, reinforce the importance of such initiatives.  Last year saw drought, culminating in fatal wild fires (click here for my report on the impact on the Dão region).   This year has seen relentless rainfall, culminating in hail and floods (click here for news about their impact on the Douro region).

When I spoke to Luisa Amorim of Amorim, another sponsor of the Porto Summit, she was concerned about the future of viticulture in Portugal even in 30 years time when, she said, “Portugal now has two seasons, very hot and very rainy and the vegetative cycle of the vine is confused.” “[W]e need to adapt techniques, our culture and think sustainability,”  she added.


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