PART 2 - BUSINESSES RAMP UP ON INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION
Effective climate action by multiple non-state actors, be they businesses, cities or regions, could make significant contributions to narrowing the global emissions gap, adapting to climate change, and demonstrating to governments that higher ambition is desirable and doable. Going beyond words, this 5-part series on climate actions for a green economy shows how these actors are, in fact, hard at work and delivering results. By Jovin Hurry
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of actions by businesses and investors in today’s climate crisis. Many climate action initiatives are producing outputs toward their goals. However, truth be told at the onset, key challenges of inclusion and scope remain, creating an urgent need to invest in scaling up climate action, and the framework supporting it as we roll in 2018.
Pledges by governments under the Paris Agreement would still translate into 3 degrees celsius warming or more, resulting in adverse impacts for a majority of people, and high risk of irreversible economic and ecological disruptions.
Non-state and subnational actions could significantly narrow the global mitigation gap, as well as promote adaptation, especially in developing countries with a strong backing from businesses and by riding on the new technology industrial revolution.
This technology revolution will provide a major boost to speed up climate action but only, understandably, if business commits to it and governments back it with stable policy and new incentives.
“Business can provide policy advice to governments for setting up suitable framework conditions,” said UNIDO Senior Programme Management Expert Takeshi Nagasawa. “As a knowledge-sharing and project development platform, UNIDO can help capitalize on the sustainable energy aspects of Industry 4.0 by transforming systems or leapfrog technology waves.” UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
Over the last few years, business, government and civil society have been delving into technological and policy innovation and new ways of collaborating to get the world on track to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Getting ideas into action, launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the below50 initiative as an example is a global collaboration that brings together the entire value-chain for sustainable fuels – that is, fuels that produce at least 50% less CO2 emissions than conventional fossil fuels.
“We need innovation across policies, technologies and methods of collaboration,” said Rasmus Valanko, Director of Climate and Energy at the WBCSD. The WBCSD is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world
Below50 not only represents innovative technology, but also innovative ways of partnering with governments to create enabling policies that will to bring low-carbon solutions to local markets.
The goal is to create the demand and market for these fuels to scale up deployment, as carbon smart technologies are now disrupting the fuels and chemicals supply chain. The idea is to then create systems that reward and encourage sustainable investment.
The below50 hubs allow companies to engage with the below50 global campaign at the local level. Each hub works on solutions tailored for their regions - including local policy, awareness raising and financing.
Hence, forward-looking businesses are already exceeding their climate targets by using innovation to help them reduce their carbon footprint. They are getting themselves set to deliver the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal.
“Industry is taking action on climate change like no other period in history,” said Peter Bakker, President and CEO at the WBCSD. “The transition to the low-carbon economy is inevitable, and business will continue to implement the solutions necessary for fulfilling the Paris Agreement.”
However, closer national and international policy and implementation strategy partnerships together with governments will help business take further, faster action.
“Industry will deliver the low-carbon economy of the future. Forward-thinking companies must continue to push policy in the right direction,” said Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business. We Mean Business is a global coalition of nonprofit organizations working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change.
Getting on track to the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius is required if the world is also to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals under the UN 2030 Agenda, and faster action by global industry is a cross-cutting requirement for every one of these 17 goals.
Fortunately, since 2015, over 600 companies with combined revenues of more than $15 trillion have made over 1,000 commitments to climate action through We Mean Business.
Many are going 100% renewable through implementing science-based climate targets and collaborating across sectors through the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative. These ambitious companies are collectively driving the transition to the low-carbon world.
As businesses and other non-state actors act together on climate like this, they serve as proof for policymakers that strong climate targets will be supported by the implementation of practical solutions.
Taken together, the ambitions of the low carbon partnerships alone are estimated to target 65% of emissions reductions necessary for remaining under the 2 degrees celsius limit, and could channel $5-10 trillion of investment into the low-carbon economy while supporting millions of jobs worldwide.
It is clear that industry is leading the way to a low-carbon world and that companies are poised to work with governments under the right policy environment. Businesses are key implementation partners for the Paris Agreement.
An in-depth transformation requires all sectors of society to join forces. A lot of businesses are willing and doing their share to lead the way and to be instrumental in the delivery.