On October 26, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development brought together representatives of the world’s businesses, scientists, policy makers and non-governmental organizations to discuss business priorities as the world moves closer to the first “Global Analysis” of progress made in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement. change.
The stocktaking, launched last year at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, will be held first in 2023 and then at five-year intervals. The following is, in my opinion, a summary of the main issues raised and proposals presented at the WBCSD session. The event was held according to the rules of Chatham House.
Ahead of the next COP 27 global climate summit starting next week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the World Resources Institute reports that so far only 24 of the 194 countries participating in the Paris Climate Change Agreement have announced new or updated emission reduction targets after last year’s COP26 meeting.
If these targets are met, they would result in an overall improvement in emission reductions of just 7% by 2030: just a fraction of the 45% reduction we need by 2030, according to an assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). at the beginning of this year.
“Now is the time to act,” said one participant. “We have to increase our ambitions. Large companies are being called upon to assess their impact on biodiversity. Governments face the challenge of mainstreaming biodiversity into policies and regulations. And we must involve small farmers, indigenous peoples, youth, women and the scientific community.”
A recurring theme throughout the meeting was the need for collective action between societies. “Because the economy depends on the flow of natural systems, the loss of biodiversity affects us all. This means that collective action is needed between governments, the private sector, communities and individuals,” he said. “Companies have a critical role to play in this to show that business as usual is no longer a viable solution.”
The meeting also highlighted the need to focus on nature, equity and climate action and develop clear rules and accountability mechanisms while freeing up public finance to mitigate risks and scale supply chain innovation.
Innovation and Commitment
The group discussed with representatives from Asia, the Middle East and Europe concrete collective actions that can be taken to accelerate the transition to a zero, fair and environmentally friendly world.
The need for new ideas was high on the list, along with the need for total business commitment. For me, this means that more innovation and creativity will be required in the future: old formulas must be rethought.
I think developing the necessary culture of innovation will require a major change in company behavior, perhaps with CEOs spending 20-40% of their time on innovation, the divisions sitting next to them at the highest levels of the company, and the top entrepreneurs. officers and processes that allow everyone to generate ideas. In my opinion, companies should ensure that teams and people think differently.
The role of youth as a source of change was highlighted: “There are over a billion young people in Asia and the Pacific and Africa who can take action to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They can work with companies on data, technology, stock, valuation. Young people can drive corporate action, investment and commitment,” said one participant.
Another noted continued difficulties in leveling the playing field between state and non-state actors. “A fertile idea here is a public-private partnership that combines investment packages. Fortunately, we are starting to see movement in this area and it should grow further,” he said.
To date, progress has not been made to the extent necessary. “We have an alignment in direction, but not in magnitude,” said one participant. “Capital is not aiming for the same level as other leaders. Is it because there is not enough money to win? In renewables, yes, it works, but with regards to the mainstream energy transition with its high capital investment, pressure on executives to make a profit and quarterly results in public companies, I don’t think we’ve opened that conversation. ,” he said.
Related to this was the “triangle of inertia” that arose from companies waiting for carbon pricing or other emissions-related regulations, politicians waiting for citizens to adopt such policies, and citizens waiting for products or services will be accepted cheaper than current fossil fuel products. added another member.
One response to these obstacles, according to one participant, has been to change the traditional hierarchy of action for global organizations through governments, communities and citizens. “We need to change this order and start with citizens. If they understand [the issues], if they are empowered, then the urgency [for change] can start from the bottom up.”
The need for stronger accountability mechanisms was highlighted to create pressure to ensure that commitments are met. “Innovation is great, but we also need to pay attention to social and institutional innovation, not just technological innovation,” he said.
The working discussions addressed two questions to be addressed at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: what should be the key priorities for policy makers to support private sector action on climate, nature and the environment? need to apply? focused on scaling value chains and sustainable industries?
One suggestion was to focus on areas where incremental progress could pave the way for later, larger steps, such as tightening disclosure requirements or merging oil companies to reduce methane emissions.
Building on a wealth of experience laid down by initiatives such as the SBTI (Science-Based Targeted Initiatives) and others, participants saw a growing space for companies looking to reduce emissions, as well as informing governments about voluntary efforts in carbon markets and how they can fit each other. with official programs.
The general needs for decarbonization of production, hydrogen as an energy source and more efficient use of already existing data were also mentioned as challenges that need to be addressed, especially in ways that smaller companies can take advantage of.