A ‘wicked’ problem can be characterized not by a meaning of evil, but as a problem that is very complex to solve. The term was first coined by professors Rittel and Webber at University of California lecture. The phrase was referring to problems that could not be solved with normal analytical or linear solutions and with no definitive right or wrong answer. The current carbon and climate change debate are very good examples of a wicked problem. Contributing to the perception of the ‘wicked’ problem is that many stakeholders are in denial about the issue. Furthermore these issues pose a huge potential problem for many businesses changing the way they do and think about their business. Conversely, it could have a positive effect on business and this is recognized by government incentives, which are currently being offered.
Problem solving traditionally is based on scientific method. When solving a problem, scientists develop a hypothesis, and then conduct experiments, with intention of proving the hypothesis false. With the issues of carbon and climate change, the hypothesis is very unwieldy and complicated. The Climate Institute, in a report titled “Climate Change”: Making Up Your Mind” and The Australian Academy of Science offers some explanations to assist people to understand the issue. The Western industrialised world rapidly expanded without much consideration for the environment. Recognition of this is seen in initiatives such as The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the most important body in the world providing science on climate change and the associated impacts on the environment and socio-economic stage.
Although this ‘wicked’ problem is widely interpreted as a potential threat to business, there are also many new opportunities and incentives that exist.
In 2006 the release of Al’ Gore movie “An Innocent Truth” raised awareness about the issue and business innovation in this area responded. Technologists believe that through the introduction of forms of intervention and incentive for industries to became “green”, new markets will form bringing new market opportunity. An example of a recently formed market is the carbon exchange, a revolutionary marketplace that allows customers to buy and sell carbon credits. More and more governments are making the purchase of these credits mandatory for a business’s carbon footprint, this platform allows businesses to meet their obligations under the EU trading scheme, or to voluntary counter their carbon emissions to become more green and potentially attractive to investors. The Australian Government is committed to the Carbon and Climate Change issue and offers a range of incentives for businesses to be ‘clean’. These include the Clean Technology Innovation Program and the Energy Efficiency Information Grants are two such programs.
The problems associated with the carbon and climate change debate were signposted at the Durban Climate Change conference in November/December 2011. The Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki - Moon clearly articulated that the world needs to finance the initiatives to combat climate change and called on industrialised nations to inject the capital. There is now an expectation that business complies and there are specialist organisations and websites set up to advise business how to adapt to the new carbon change regulations. The Carbon Disclosure project and The Carbon Trust are examples.
A major issue to be addressed is whether Australia is prepared to slow our economic growth to ease the global warming problem and groups such as the Investor Group on Climate change to encourage investment and government policies to