Climate change is the most pressing and critical challenge humanity has faced in its history. We don’t have the time to rely on regulators to pass appropriate climate mitigation and adaption legislation. Climate action from across all industry sectors, whatever the size of organisation is essential, required and indeed increasingly demanded by customers and consumers. To address this, I am writing a sequence of blogs called the Climate Coaching Series. I will be exploring climate action and answering the questions of what organisations can do to benefit people, profit and planet.
The series of blogs will be informative, and action orientated, and the actions will link to the framework provided by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Climate Coaching Series will provide ideas and ways for smart climate choices which will benefit organisations and the climate. All organisations should by now be seeking ways in which to engage in an effective and rational way on climate action. The blogs will support this much-needed transition and frankly, if you are concerned with the longevity of your company, there is no choice. Climate action and sustainability are the way forward. If you are still wondering about the business case for action, well, ask yourself what the business case for not taking climate action is.
In the upcoming climate coaching blog series, I will cover potential impacts on and action relating to:
- Energy efficiency
- Food waste
- Greening of products & services
- Procurement & supply chain
- How to create staff engagement.
Global Climate Action
If you are still reading, you are interested in climate change and learning what your organisation can do about it. Great, and you are not alone. The countries of the world have come together in what is commonly known as the Paris Agreement. This is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change and how to finance all of this. It starts in just less than two years, in 2020.
Each country which is part of the agreement determines, plans and reports its own contribution to mitigate global warming. There is no mechanism to force a country to emit less greenhouse gases, but each target should go beyond any previously set targets. The Paris Agreement has as an aim to reduce global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. With current policies, and including pledges made by countries up to November last year, the median global warming is still forecast tol be +3.2 °C. Not enough by any means to avoid dangerous climate change, with effects such as changes in precipitation causing more frequent flooding in places, more droughts and heat waves in others, sea-level rise, hurricanes to become stronger and more intense and the Arctic likely to become essentially ice-free in summer. If we do not take action now, we are facing irreversible consequences to the climate system. Some say we are already there.
The current US President Donald Trump has announced his intentions to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In response, more than 2,500 leaders across the US, representing more than 130 million Americans, independent of political colour, have acknowledged the importance of climate change and their will to fight it, in support of the Paris Agreement, through signing the We Are Still In declaration.
It is clear that Governments alone will not achieve the challenging and ambitious agenda which is required to turn things around for a low carbon future. This is why business action is essential. “We Are Still In” is a clear indication that businesses and their customers are in favour of climate action and that it actually also presents business opportunities.
If saving humanity and the planet does not push you into action, consider this: climate change is bad for the economy. Harvard Business Review showed just last year that the share of national GDP at risk from climate change, including the impact of human pandemics, is almost $2.2 trillion through 2025.
Framing climate action
Climate action is a part of the global agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In my view, it is one of the most important goals, which has an impact and relevance on all other goals. It is also a goal on which everyone has an impact – and can therefore take action, no matter how small.
Knowing the data, precisely defining the impact of your organisation’s activities today is an essential starting point prior to determining action, setting targets and understanding progress. As the famous management adage goes; you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Further, being open and transparent about your targets, actIon and progress towards staff and other stakeholders set a basis for a prospering relationship in your climate work. Linking your action to a bigger picture reference, like the Sustainable Development Goals, can not only be educational and provide a purpose, it can be very supportive in showing that your organisation is taking the environment seriously, wherever you operate.
I recommend you set annual targets. If you don’t know how to measure and report your carbon The Planet Mark has created the Beginners Guide to Carbon Footprinting to help you get started.
Please keep an eye for the next blog in the Climate Coaching Series on The Planet MarkTM website. I am looking forward to your feedback and hearing about your actions. Together we can create a sustainable and low carbon future, for us and for future generations, and not – in the words from the Hitch Hikers Galaxy – “..so long, and thanks for the fish…”!
About the Author:
Carolina Karlstrom runs Jade Advisory, a sustainability advisory and coaching business. She has more than 20 years’ experience from the sustainable energy sector including leading the sustainability programme of an international renewable energy company. A mother of two and a part-time student on the MSc in Sustainability & Responsibility at Ashridge/ Hult Business School, Carolina is also the organiser of the Sustainable Development Goal Network Meetup’s in London, where like-minded people get together to learn and discuss local actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals.