There are many reasons we all need to be contributing to reducing our emissions and meet the 1.5c Paris Agreement goals for climate change. Most obviously, climate change is an existential threat to humanity. At 2c of global warming, the world’s coral reefs will die, creating an estimated 500 million climate refugees as people who used to be able to feed their families and make a living from equatorial reefs and fisheries move away from ocean dead zones.
The World Bank in their groundbreaking 2012 report ‘Why a 4C warmer world must be avoided’ (https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/11860) stated that 4c of global warming is ‘incompatible with organized civilization’. Without taking action, we are on track to reach 4c by the end of this century – well within the lifetimes of young people today. (https://climateactiontracker.org/global/temperatures/)
In practical terms, that means that your company is either going to have to reduce the amount of carbon you burn in your operations, or the costs will rise in the near future as carbon is priced or taxed. The question of carbon pricing, whether through a carbon tax, tariff, or cap and trade system is not if but when and the smart companies are planning for reducing their carbon now.
If you reduce the carbon footprint of your business now, you’ll have the time to make decisions and investments, rather than waiting for governments to act and being blindsided with short term targets of steep reductions.
In Australian climate change has been a political hot potato which has inhibited meaningful action, however this is not representative of what’s going on around the world., The EU is currently discussing carbon border charges that will prevent companies and countries ‘freeloading’ on everyone else’s climate action, so building sustainability as the default for your business is going to be key.
There are governments globally that are already starting to take steps towards the change we need to be making to get to the 1.5c targets, with Sweden, the UK, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, the EU, Canada, South Korea, Spain, Chile, Fiji, New Zealand, China and the USA setting net zero targets for carbon in the past year, or earlier.
It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The only companies that will survive into the second half of this century are ones that can run their business without burning carbon. The smart ones are working out how to do that now, the others will be blindsided by change and either hurry to catch up when there is no other option or will be left to fail.