Desperately worried about climate change when I was a UK cabinet minister in 2007, I proposed that the European Union\u2019s Emissions Trading System went global.\u00a0But a study in April 2020 found that\u00a0between 2008 and 2016 that system had reduced carbon emissions by a minuscule\u00a03.8% of total EU-wide emissions compared to being without it.By the end of 2021 more than a fifth of the world\u2019s emissions were covered by some form of carbon pricing, with over 60 carbon taxes and emissions-trading systems. Yet according to The Economist only a tiny minority of these schemes were effective. Carbon prices were set too low, and many domestic sectors were excluded.\u00a0Carbon market sceptics claim that emissions reductions have been minimal while polluting companies have been burnishing their green credentials.\u00a0Many schemes have also been limited in scope, to protect domestic industries. The EU is now introducing a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism\u00a0(CBAM) with a transition period from October\u00a02023 to the end of December 2025, to prevent heavy industry moving to other jurisdictions with weaker climate rules\u00a0(a classic problem with such schemes). This should remove the need to exempt some domestic sectors and strengthen incentives for non-EU countries hoping to transition from carbon to renewable energy.Lower- and middle-income countries with the fewest resources are likely to bear the greatest disruptive burdens of climate change. So it is vital they are able to invest in renewable energy rather than in fossil fuels. They also offer great potential for skipping over centralised electricity generation from fossil fuels to on-site, renewable power, including solar and wind, off-grid if needs be.Africa, for example, has the world\u2019s greatest solar energy potential, and in 2000 I proposed and got endorsed at the Europe-Africa Summit in Gaborone, that a significant share of EU aid should be spent on investment in renewables of all sorts, solar especially.Slow progressBut progress since then has been abysmally slow. As the International Energy Agency (IEA) argues, this transition to low carbon energy will not take place unless new capital resources, including green investment and carbon credits, can harness much greater international financial support.\u00a0Joined by the World Bank and the United Nations, the IEA recently called on developed economies to fund much more investment in renewable energy in developing economies. And carbon trading schemes need to be designed to help deliver that objective.At the Cop27 conference in November 2022, John Kerry, the US climate envoy, proposed a voluntary scheme for big companies to fund decarbonisation of power systems in the developing world.\u00a0While his scheme would circumvent domestic US political opposition to any proposal for a \u201ccarbon tax\u201d, would private companies have any incentive to join such a scheme?\u00a0As of November 2022,\u00a0over one-third of the world\u2019s largest publicly traded companies had announced net-zero targets. Kerry\u2019s proposal is to find suitable projects for carbon off-setting funds.At the core of all this is whether the governments of the world and their citizens really want to tackle the climate emergency, by financing a transition to renewable energy, or not. As John Kerry insisted: \u201cWe have to win the battle against the climate crisis, not give in to business as usual\u2026 If we don\u2019t come up with creative ways to mobilise money, we are going to blow through 1.5C [of global heating].\u201dKerry deserves credit for his efforts. However, his voluntary carbon credit programme cannot guarantee deep, real cuts in emissions unless it is accompanied by concessional finance below market rates for poorer nations to invest in clean energy. \u201cIt\u2019s tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs as the climate ship is going down,\u201d argued the Union of Concerned Scientists.More action, less blah-blah-blahPoliticians \u2013 and frankly most citizens too \u2013 pay lip service to the climate emergency. We are horrified about unprecedented weather extremes right across the world: devastating floods and seemingly endless droughts; temperatures plummeting to well below freezing as well as soaring into heatwave firestorms.But we still want to drive our cars, order online for deliveries, take flights and use ever more energy. Windfarms yes \u2013 but not in our backyards. Marine turbines of course \u2013 but not if we are stopped swimming where we want to at favourite beaches or stopped fishing in our favourite estuaries. A thumbs-up for investment in the green economy \u2013 but not if it means paying higher taxes. A long-term agenda \u2013 but not if it gets in the way of a short-term fix to win the next election.Nearly 20 years ago I remember Nicholas Stern attending one of our Labour cabinet meetings to present his chilling report on climate change. His message: there will be big costs in the short term to limit climate change damage \u2013 but even greater costs in the longer term if governments and citizens do nothing or too little.How right he was. Too little action, too much blah-blah-blah as Greta Thunberg pithily put it.\u00a0This is an\u00a0IC Intelligence\u00a0article, written for African Business.