The big push towards 1.5°C and how to get there
Everywhere around the globe, everywhere you look, there is clear evidence of the climate change. What’s worse, the effects of climate change are severely impacting societies as well as the global economy in an unprecedented level. Humanity has pushed the limits of the natural environment, perceiving it as a “sink” of infinite capacity and infinite stability. The past few years, however, have demonstrated in the most dramatic fashion that, not only is the stability and capacity of the Earth limited; we have already reached those limits long ago. Obviously, the Earth is still going to be here millions of years from now, with its atmosphere and nature. The problem is that humans will have a hard time living in that environment and human civilization will have an even harder time flourishing in it. In order to reduce the risks for the near future, requires us to work towards limiting the temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial temperatures.
In order to achieve that 1.5°C goal, global greenhouse gas emissions should be cut in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Moreover, some of the carbon already present in our atmosphere should be removed. It is of paramount importance to understand that reducing emissions is not an endeavour only applicable to governments or huge multinational corporate entities, but something that everybody can have an impact and should strive to achieve. The entire business sector contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions and can, therefore, also contribute to their reduction.
The United Nations’ report on 1.5°C concludes that global temperatures need to remain below the new threshold, if we are to avoid major catastrophic events. Therefore, it is imperative that emissions be cut in half for every passing decade – starting from 2020. This simple rule, colloquially known as the Carbon Law, is germane to everyone: nations, companies, cities and private individuals. Moreover, the Carbon Law should be perceived as the absolute minimum average; in other words, if we can do better, we really should.
The climate strategy for each company can be broken down into four distinct links of a comprehensive chain. The first link focuses on the activities of the company itself and its actions towards reducing its own emissions. The second link entails activities aimed at reducing the emissions of its value chain. The third link involves the company’s vision, strategy, and products and services, and their alignment with the 1.5°C goal. Finally, the fourth link pertains to the contributions beyond the company. Influencing government policies, supporting initiatives, verifying organisational objectives outside the corporate walls, as well as encouraging employees to adopt sustainable practices, all fall within the scope of the fourth link.
Finally, it is imperative that full disclosure on the direction, targets, progress and actions of each company should be communicated and updated on a regular basis. The 1.5°C commitment can both strengthen a brand and simultaneously influence others towards the same goal.