12 Aug Key factors to consider from the latest IPCC report
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report highlighting the unprecedented changes we are experiencing are directly related to the climate crisis. Environmental groups have highlighted how businesses should be responding to the warnings given in the latest report.
The IPCC report warns that the time left to reach the necessary emission reductions required to prevent the related climatic impacts is rapidly decreasing, meaning that the possibility of achieving the Paris Agreement measures requires reaching at least the net-zero target by 2050.
The IPCC explains that global temperatures could exceed 3C this century unless we implement drastic and immediate measures to reduce our emissions. Green industry groups have reacted to the report, with many professionals urging policymakers to accelerate climate plans before the COP26 climate conference. The IPCC findings have several implications for the business world and indicate that several companies have been quick to adapt following the net-zero movement.
The report emphasises that net-zero carbon by 2050 should be the minimum target and highlights the importance of halving global emissions this decade. The IPPC urges senior leaders to look beyond carbon and focus on other greenhouse gases, like methane, within their emission reduction strategies.
As businesses move closer towards net-zero goals, they should start looking at how they can work beyond these targets and implement innovative measures that directly contribute to the planet. Taking this approach will ensure a business plays a critical part in eliminating the potential of reaching future tipping points. Some companies are already taking this approach and working beyond net-zero. For example, global technology corporation Microsoft has a goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030.
Implementing Science-Based Targets to Ensure Net-Zero
A recent report from Oxfam suggested that nations were hiding behind a net-zero smokescreen and were being too reliant on carbon offsetting schemes instead of focusing on decarbonising efforts. The latest IPCC report has followed on from this, emphasising the need to accelerate decarbonisation over the next few years.
One of the key findings from the report is that significant reductions in emissions are necessary this decade to prevent ecological and climate breakdown. As such, businesses and countries cannot be reliant on long-term net-zero targets. Earlier this year, the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) announced it was updating its strategic approach to increasing the goals for corporate climate action from well below 2C to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as stated in the Paris Agreement. Any corporation that had approved targets from 2020 or before will have until 2025 to revise these goals. The SBTi has released supportive information that works towards a new global standard to ensure corporate net-zero targets align with climate science.
Some industry experts have criticised businesses and some industries for being too focused on carbon offsetting rather than actual decarbonisation plans. The global market for offsetting has grown considerably in recent years. While offsets have a part to play in incorporate emissions in the short term, the IPCC report warns that our planet is losing its ability to work as a carbon sink. While land and oceans absorb approximately half of human-derived emissions, natural carbon sinks could lose their ability to sequester carbon unless emission levels are changed. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) is developing measures for businesses on how credible the concept of carbon-neutral or net-zero via offsetting are.
The report explains that in the future, climate change will create different disruptions in different regions. Resilience and adaptation are key priority areas at the upcoming COP26 event. Businesses will need to focus on these areas if they intend to continue thriving in the years to come.
Resilience has become a focus area for the private sector during the pandemic. Some companies are still in a stage of crisis management, while others are applying a more holistic and long term view of resilience. Emma Cox, the global sustainability and climate change leader at PwC, believe the report provides the most comprehensive analysis of how operations, supply chains and markets are all impacted by climate change. Cox emphasises that climate science should remain at the core of all decision making and targets.
Reformation of policies
With only a few months now until the start of COP26, many industry members anticipating this summit as a pivotal moment for global leaders to agree on climate action plans.
The COP26 has provided a new way for businesses to engage with Government and enabled opportunities to promote international climate action. Active lobbying from green groups and selected businesses has been essential and influenced policies and plans within the UK. Companies have also collaborated and come together to promote a green recovery from the pandemic.
The warning from the IPCC report indicates that businesses have a vital role in urging leaders to determine both short and long-term decarbonisation efforts. Forward-thinking and innovative companies understand that they need to take immediate action on how business activities are managed and implement plans to deliver a more stable, net-zero economy. The concern, however, is that many commitments fail to convert into action. While many businesses have committed to this transformation, there are many yet to implement the necessary changes. Our goals and global ambitions now need to be translated into action as soon as possible.