Business must show more commitment and collaboration on climate change

Climate Change, Economics, Private sector

OPINION:

At the Paris climate summit there were promising signs from the private sector about taking action on climate change, but the path to a low carbon future is still far from clear. Lucia Lopez Pineda urges businesses to step up their game in collaboration with civil society and the development sector.

This week the Business and Climate Summit 2016 brought representatives of global companies and policy makers together in London. The event aimed to review companies’ progress in support of climate action and set new ambitions for emissions reduction. The summit demonstrates that companies do have a mandate to change their practices in order to create low-carbon economies.

delaying uncomfortable changes means risking the future of our planet Both governments and businesses must take responsibility for the transformation to a low carbon economy. At present, despite a clear outcome of COP 21 being the need to rapidly build low carbon, resilient economies, many companies have not picked up the pace.

The reality of COP 21 is that the transformation needed will result in the destruction of some business models and radically alter others, but delaying uncomfortable changes means risking the future of our planet.

According to Oxfam analysis: Millions of poor and vulnerable people face hunger and poverty this year and next because of record global temperatures. Droughts and erratic rains in 2014 and 2015 have been compounded by possibly the most powerful El Niño on record. As such there is no room for complacency. Only 1°C of warming is already leaving major destruction in its
wake. Three in four disasters are now climate related and since the first Climate Change Conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather related disasters. The overwhelming majority of lives lost have been in developing countries.

climate change could result in an abrupt adjustment to the risks posed by high carbon assets, creating global shocks The Business and Climate Summit showed recognition of the climate change challenge but it added little in terms of new commitments or initiatives that would show progress since Paris. Despite calls for wide collaboration, civil society and the development sector were virtually absent in the Summit, even though they are on the front lines of dealing with climate impacts. The challenge of climate change requires
collective action; exclusionary processes do not help in promoting the kind of collaboration required.

In a game changing speech last year the Bank of England Governor showed that climate change could result in an abrupt adjustment to the risks posed by high carbon assets, creating global shocks which will extend beyond the energy sector and the financial sector. 

Our lack of progress on climate change to date means the question is not whether the risks will manifest, but rather a question of the severity of the risks. Belated attempts to control emissions will mean the costs of the transition will be correspondingly higher. The speed at which such re-pricing occurs is uncertain and could be traumatic for the financial stability of entire economies.

We do not want to look back with regret at what our world has lost due to inaction. There is a need for business to pick up the pace. We need action not just words from business, and we need it now.

Companies must extricate themselves from short-termism and reach for science based carbon reduction targets. Climate change is a business issue, an environmental issue but most importantly a human issue. A working balance of participation and collaboration between development organizations, companies, policy makers, and activists is needed. Companies must extricate themselves from short-termism and reach for science based carbon reduction targets. Crucially, they must collaborate across sectors while engaging their supply chains and customers to
ensure that low carbon processes are intrinsically woven into the economy.

I wish the private sector would, like me, take inspiration from this quote from Berta Caceres the environmental advocate who was assassinated for her work defending human rights and the environment:

“Our mother earth -militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated -demands that we take actions. Let’s build up societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way that protects life.”

A great message that remind us that we need to come together as citizens of the world.

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Photo: A small coffee plantation in Honduras, farmers like Francisco are being heavily affected by the impacts of climate change. Credit: Eleanor Farmer/Oxfam

Author: Lucia Lopez Pineda
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.