What happened in Paris?

In December, world leaders agreed to tackle climate change – what should your business do next?

At a top level the signal is clear. The world is taking climate change seriously and every business needs to be part of the solution.

Scenes illustrate daily life in Garba Tulla, Kenya on the 9th May, 2012. The region around Garba Tulla has experience recurring drought for over ten years, and many pastoralists have now lost their livelihoods as a result. Action Aid are working on an agricultural and Water Pan project to provide alternative livelihoods to the most vulnerable in the community.

In December 195 countries were present at the Conference of the Parties in Paris. Every one signed an agreement to take action to tackle climate change. For the first time, all countries pledged to cut their carbon emissions and keep global mean temperature rise 2 degrees below pre-industrialised levels. Beyond this they agreed an ambition to keep temperature change below 1.5 degrees with a long term goal for zero carbon emissions by the end of the century.

Current pledges alone are not enough to meet this 2 degree target, and the agreement includes a process to review and revise targets every five years, ramping up ambition over time. So going forward we can expect to see a push for stronger and more rapid action to tackle climate change.

Even without all the detail needed to turn intention into reality, the agreements made in Paris are a clear signal that governments and leaders around the world are looking to drive and support a low carbon future. Coupled with this there was a strong call for businesses to play their part.

 

Five key themes from the Agreement are:

  • We’re all in this together – going forward, every country will need to take action to reduce carbon emissions. Governments need to work with businesses to make this a reality.
  • Measure and report – there is an emphasis on more transparent measurement. At a country level, progress will be regularly reported with targets reviewed every five years.
  • The age of renewable energy – Governments around the world see the benefits of expanding renewable energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Economic sense and opportunity – economic growth doesn’t sit at odds with action on climate change. Improving resilience and reducing energy demand makes economic sense, it will increase the competitiveness of countries and corporates alike.
  • Re-affirmation of the need for adaptation in the developing world – with the emphasis on funding coming from more developed countries.

 

What does this mean for your business?

Detailed implementation will take time to agree, but the principles put in place are a strong message to business leaders and investors and provide a framework for your business to take action now.

There’s a growing role for businesses to become part of the climate change solution, with opportunities for new investment and growth as we transition to a low carbon economy and adapt to a warmer world. In light of the Paris Agreement, now is the time for all businesses to review their strategies and take action in order to remain relevant, competitive and profitable in the long term.

 

We’ve set out 10 things your business can do next, to build on the momentum of COP21:

  1. Sign up to the Paris Pledge for Action
  2. Set a Science Based Emission Reduction target
  3. Pledge to become Climate Neutral Now
  4. Join the RE100
  5. Put an internal price on greenhouse gas emissions
  6. Engage employees with your plans
  7. Review your supply chain and emerging market impacts
  8. Align your climate strategy with the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development
  9. Review your measurement and reporting frameworks
  10. Think about the partners who can help you deliver

For support to set your climate and sustainability strategy and deliver against your pledges contact the ClimateCare Team.

 

For more information

  • The Business & Finance Story – Whilst written ahead of the talks, this article by The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit is a useful explanation about how climate change is challenging the world’s business model.

Rhiannon Szmigielski

 

Rhiannon Szmigielski is Marketing Director at ClimateCare. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Rhiannon has over 16 years’ communications experience across business, government and non-profit sectors. She helps clients devise effective communications strategies that maximise the value of their ClimateCare programme.

Photo credit: Kate Holt