The price of tackling the climate crisis is increasing – but so are the benefits of acting today.
In 2022 alone, the United States has already been affected by 15 climate disaster events, each with losses exceeding $1 billion and hundreds of human lives. Let's not forget that we are only 1ºC above historic norms – and plenty more worrisome impacts will happen if that figure grows.
It is therefore critical to step up the pace of decarbonising all sectors of the global economy and to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5C – the ambition of the Paris Agreement and the figure that climate scientists define as the threshold of safety. Yet, current efforts are falling short.
Shifting from a resource-heavy economy to a low-carbon, sustainable one relies on a variety of top-down (i.e. policy, regulation) and bottom-up interventions (i.e. voluntary initiatives by individual corporations). It means we cannot look at one system alone: mitigating climate change is deeply connected to transforming the way we produce and use energy, food and manage water. It means moving towards a circular economy that works with nature instead of against it, and harnesses the power of tech for good.
We need ambitious national policies, coupled with private sector ingenuity, vision and adaptability to ensure nothing less than human survival. Companies are being called upon by their employees, shareholders, customers, partners and the world at large to do everything they can to address their environmental and climate impact.
To avoid a catastrophic scenario and respond to the challenges of the climate crisis, we need every tool in the climate toolbox.
A credible and science-led climate journey requires companies to understand their impact on the planet, measure the emissions associated with their business operations and value chain, strategise how to minimise them through science-based targets, reduce their footprint, and annually and transparently disclose their progress. This is where impactful renewable energy and circular economy strategies come into play.
Reducing emissions is essential on the path to net zero but decarbonization initiatives often take a lot of time to implement. Many companies want to already take full responsibility for the emissions along their value chain today. Investing in high-quality carbon credits is companies' preferred way of doing so: as a method, it's proven, transparent, scalable and results-based. It has the potential to transform unfunded projects that protect threatened, biodiverse tropical forests, implement resilient, climate-smart agriculture and bring wide-reaching positive social, biodiversity and environmental impacts, with immediate results.
Such investments show leadership: companies can demonstrate they are taking action today for the benefit of future generations, while designing a climate action strategy deeply embedded in company-wide decarbonisation measures. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, carbon offsetting must take place alongside, and not in the place of, a robust decarbonisation strategy.
The voluntary carbon market plays an increasingly important role in our global response to climate change, and with that comes healthy scrutiny and a need to constantly improve our underlying mechanisms. Navigating the voluntary carbon market and the wider areas of systems transformation can be a challenge. While some private actors are already disrupting 'business as usual', other companies require guidance on best practices and on designing a comprehensive net zero strategy that keeps the big picture in mind. That's why we offer climate action workshops which are tailored to the needs of organisations - please take a look here for more information.
Recent scientific research has found that the economic damage of climate change could be six times higher by the end of this century than previously estimated. In the words of co-author Paul Waidelich from ETH Zürich, “it is still cheaper to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than it is to deal with climate change impacts."
Science tells us that time is not on our side, and emissions-free operations can be years or even decades away for some. This is why, alongside efforts to reduce emissions, companies must also invest in climate mitigation activities beyond their value chains to set the global economy on a path to net zero. To achieve this vision of a stable climate, an end to poverty, and thriving ecosystems, we need high ambitions. But we also need transformative action, starting now. Certified carbon credits from climate action projects can help deliver that.