Why is it time for businesses to take the lead in the fight against climate change
Last December, after a couple of weeks of discussions and talks aimed to find a successful solution to tackle climate change, delegates from more than 100 countries left Paris with the ambitious goal to limit global warming to less than 2°C.
Successively, 110 out of 197 Parties ratified the Treatment and agreed to keep the temperature increase below what experts and scientists said to be the point of no return before an irreversible environmental emergency.
The result was the Paris Agreement which finally came into force the 4th of November.
But what’s actually happening around the world in order to make sure the 2°C target is achieved? What are countries and governments doing to meet the new environmental requirements?
Sadly, it looks like the Paris Agreement has already been put on hold by the majority of nations. Whilst serious and warring political facts happening in the last few months have drawn the public attention towards different matters, we can’t forget that the protection of our environment and the commitment to keep global warming under the 2°C limit are essential conditions to a sustainable life.
Many developing countries are suffering the consequences of irresponsible management of our global natural resources, and cannot afford to cope with a worse situation. It goes without saying that Western countries are also seeing the effect of global warming too. Floods, violent thunderstorms and tropical temperatures have been seen across counties in the UK last year, with nobody being able to take control of the situation.
That’s why the Paris Agreement has been seen by the vast majority as a breath of fresh air and the opportunity to create a real change. But…
Following Paris, the 22nd edition of the Conference of Parties just took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, with the global leaders of the different countries mentioned above urging for action and heavy-handed decisions.
Apparently, none of the governments involved have actually acted to meet the Paris Agreement requirements. This is also because the Paris Agreement works just as an empty framework, and requires further action to lead to tangible results. In other words, Governments need to put local and specific regulations in place. Are they doing so?
With experts like the International Energy Agency chief saying that ’current government pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions are inadequate’ (Guardian), and some new political representatives calling to totally ditch the Agreement, ‘no’ feels like the honest answer. And that’s why businesses need to step into the game with audacity and determination.
As we pointed out after the previous Conference of Parties, the Paris Agreement should be a tool for businesses to readdress their goals and boost strategies that incorporate both profit AND sustainability. For how much we think in terms of nations, the real change leaders are corporations and big companies that provide us with most of the goods and services we use. Employing so many people, serving so many customers, attracting so many investors and managing complex and intricate supply chains, businesses control a large amount of resources we need now to care about. Some could argue that companies would follow more sustainable patterns if there were legal boundaries to respect and legally binding frameworks to report against. That’s unremarkably true and could be a way to boost innovation. For instance, we all looked with great favour to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 that introduced the obligation for businesses to start reporting about the measures taken in order to tackle modern slavery and forced labour related practices.
But if this is not yet the case, we can’t wait longer for change and we need to take the lead. Especially with the increasing awareness around topics like climate change and sustainability, companies are really sensible and depending on customers and stakeholders reactions to their policies. These two have the power to decide whether a company will survive the market simply by refusing to buy their products or withdrawing their financial support to invest their money elsewhere.
Businesses now have the need AND the opportunity to make the Paris Agreement happen and set efficient and effective sustainability strategies that could enable the 2°C goal to be reached. Doing so they would secure themselves with long term fidelity relationships with consumers and investors, which benefits their profits, and help keep climate change under control, which benefits us all.
There’s no need or space to be sentimental about the environmental disaster in course, but that’s the huge necessity of being practical and proactive. Big corporations source their materials abroad and control supply chains in developing countries whose resources won’t be available for much longer if we don’t take action immediately.
The shift to a more sustainable economy implies – to start with - investing in renewable energy, recycled materials, innovative technologies and sustainable sourcing on one hand, and ditching fossils fuels, coal, dangerous pollutant and aggressive agriculture techniques, on the other one.
Let’s make change happen.