Why And How Business Must Tackle Climate Change Now

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report brought both daunting and galvanizing news. On the positive side, the paper mentioned that it is still possible to reach only a total of 1.5°C increase in global temperature. This was the level outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement as the threshold beyond which the world would experience catastrophic and irreversible climatic shocks and pressures. On the downside, maintaining temperatures at 1.5°C would require unprecedented climate action, setting the planet on track to reduce emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and hit zero emissions by 2050.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon is famous because of the beautiful icebergs that float in this lagoon formed from the diminishing glaciers in Iceland. In the last thirty years this lake has increased a lot in size because of the acceleration of the glaciers melting affected by the global warming. (Getty)

Climate change will damage economies, devastate populations, increase resource scarcity and dramatically impact the cost of doing business. So for both humanitarian and business reasons, it is imperative that companies of all sizes take action. At the same time it is also likely that more aggressive climate policies will be enforced by government bodies on an international level, so from a business standpoint, addressing climate change now will serve as good business in the long run. In fact, over 150 companies have joined RE 100, thereby committing to going 100% renewable, and this movement is gaining momentum.

Averting a humanitarian and planetary crisis is reason enough to act with urgency, but there is also a business case for doing so. With the decrease cost of solar and other renewable energy sources, companies can save money and reduce energy uncertainty. What’s more, studies show that consumers want to support companies actively building a better world. Climate action offers companies excellent storytelling potential to be used in marketing initiatives to ensure their brands are meaningful and relevant to consumers because they align around shared values. The question is then what are the best ways for businesses to address climate change?

Here’s how businesses can champion climate action:

  • Measure your carbon footprint: You can’t change what you can’t measure. It’s imperative to measure how much greenhouse gas emissions your business generates annually. Once you set a business-as-usual benchmark, you can work on reducing your carbon footprint from existing levels. There are numerous tests and consultancies that can help with your carbon accounting. For example, CDP is well respected among the business community for its transparent and accountable carbon measurements. To maintain credibility, it’s important to conduct a third party audit, rather than undertake climate accounting internally.

Business leaders must take action to tackle climate change both for business, humanitarian and planetary benefits. Companies can take a stand by measuring emissions, making a climate action plan, setting emissions reduction targets, measuring progress and supporting policies that advance climate change mitigation. Anything less would be to ignore the reality of the impact of climate change, and that would only hurt business and our future in the long run.

I’m the founder and CEO of We First, a leading brand consultancy that builds purpose-driven brands. We deliver purpose-driven strategy, content and training that accelerates growth for clients like TOMS, Virgin, Timberland, Sony Pictures, SAP, VF and more.

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Simon Mainwaring

Founder/CEO brand consultancy, We First, bestselling author of We First and Lead With We, host of podcast, Lead With We.