Yet Samans, who comes to the issue not as a climate scientist but as an economist, believes the world can start preparing for the changes that look like they're on the way. "I have believed for some years now that the way to go is very practical and bottom up as opposed to philosophical and top-down. The world for the last ten years has invested extensive political capital and energy into a top-down, more political approach.
"The United Nations conferences are essentially based on negotiating national compacts to do things. In and of themselves they wouldn't really change things on the ground."
The answer, Samans says, or at least part of the answer, is to have a complimentary bottom-up track that accompanies the grand international meetings, negotiations and joint statements before everybody gets on their jets and flies home. We need to look for sectors, industries and locations where making change "gets you the biggest bang for the buck, economically, in emissions and politically."