SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 26 September 2022, Monday |

Licence to operate: why climate change matters to corporates in 2022

If 2021 was the year when corporations joined the net-zero revolution, then 2022 is the year when commitments must be translated into climate action.

The business world is poised to take it to the next level, with the issue likely to take center stage at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos next week.

“I don’t believe any significant meeting of corporate executives today can afford to ignore the topic of climate change and sustainability — it’s truly becoming a licence-to-operate problem now,” Jeffrey Beyer, managing director of Dubai-based sustainability consultant Zest Associates, told The National.

That’s because the year 2021 marked a watershed moment in the climate change battle. Despite a variety of hurdles ranging from pandemic lockdowns to supply chain interruptions and harsh weather patterns, businesses continue to thrive.

“The public has really taken notice of this. Previously, the term ‘cop’ referred to a police officer; currently, it refers to the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Cop has become a household brand, and the level of interest at these seminars is extraordinary. “There is anxiety, pressure, impatience, and rather high expectations,” Mr Beyer explained.

For businesses, this means ensuring that they engage with and invest in sustainability in order to attract not only investment but also the appropriate sort of people.

According to a recent survey by healthcare business Bupa, Gen Z will go out of their way to work for more ESG-driven companies, even if it means taking a wage reduction to do so.

Cop26, the two-week climate conference in Glasgow that completed in November, did not fulfill all of its goals, but the event was widely regarded as a success.

Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney used a shift in corporate mindset to persuade large banks, investors, and insurers with $130 trillion in assets to decarbonize their operations by the middle of the century.

Mr Carney’s efforts have resulted in private finance committing to science-based net-zero objectives and near-term milestones through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which he established in April last year.

Members of the GFANZ are supposed to identify robust, science-based near-term aims within 12-18 months of joining, with more than 90 of the founding institutions having done so by Cop26 in early November.

“2021 was a crucial year for climate,” said Stuart Lemmon, CEO of EcoAct Northern Europe, which assists businesses in implementing decarbonization programs.

“I’ve worked in the industry for over 25 years, and for the first time, I didn’t have to defend the case for climate change and why we urgently need to act,” Mr Lemmon, who is also the interim managing director of Atos’ Net Zero Transformation, said.

“Instead, climate change was at the top of the discussion, climate science was in the mainstream media, and organizations from all sectors were contacting us.”

What prompted the corporate shift?

Members of the GFANZ are supposed to identify robust, science-based near-term aims within 12-18 months of joining, with more than 90 of the founding institutions having done so by Cop26 in early November.

“2021 was a crucial year for climate,” said Stuart Lemmon, CEO of EcoAct Northern Europe, which assists businesses in implementing decarbonization programs.

“I’ve worked in the industry for over 25 years, and for the first time, I didn’t have to defend the case for climate change and why we urgently need to act,” Mr Lemmon, who is also the interim managing director of Atos’ Net Zero Transformation, said.

“Instead, climate change was at the top of the discussion, climate science was in the mainstream media, and organizations from all sectors were contacting us.”

While Cop26 concluded with the summit’s president, Alok Sharma, in tears over a change in the final deal’s phrasing, 196 nations nonetheless approved the Glasgow Climate Pact, confirming the objective of limiting temperature increases to far below 2°C (and, if possible, under 1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels.

Despite Mr Sharma’s tears, Mr Beyer stated that the climate change estimate for 2022 is based on a “mostly worked out” Cop26.

“Alok Sharma was in tears and the situation was tense, but he obtained the resolution.” “The Paris Agreement established the foundation, and Cop26 was about finalizing the rule book,” Mr Beyer explained.

“From now on, Cop27 and beyond will be about implementation.”

This implementation will rely not just on governments, but also on enterprises and individuals.

“A number of significant firms are being scrutinized for their climate pledges. “And, as time goes on, that scrutiny will shift away from pledges and toward acts,” Mr Beyer said.

“This implies that significant actors will have to demonstrate that they are lowering emissions rather than simply vowing to do so by 2050.”

    Source:
  • The National News