This year’s theme for Climate Week 2022 was the same as last year’s – Getting it Done – a reflection of the shift in mindset seen recently from climate change being a far-off, end-of-the-century issue to the understanding that it is happening right now.
Business leaders, government officials, and other participants from the week rallied around the tangible sense of urgency, worked to absorb what the current impacts are, and discussed the difficulties around taking necessary action.
A reoccurring theme was the ongoing war in Ukraine and its impact on energy prices and access throughout Europe. Generally, business leaders were more inclined to hold steady on their decarbonization commitments despite the current crisis – continuing to embrace those established sustainability fundamentals. Government officials were more open to making adjustments to the long-term decarbonization goals based on current energy supply issues. While there needs to be some flexibility and adaptability within any decarbonization strategy and execution, the long-term goals that keep us from surpassing the 1.5°C threshold cannot be abandoned – even temporarily – in response to current events.
For many sectors and many regions, decarbonization solutions exist, but they are not necessarily easy to implement. For larger companies with expanded resources – who also tend to be the largest carbon contributors – they have made bold commitments, have details and plans in place, and are focusing on implementing what they can to address both behavior-driven and technology-driven decarbonization solutions.
The number of companies who have made public decarbonization commitments also continues to increase, and the timelines for when they plan to achieve them have decreased – meaning more organizations will be reaching Net Zero sooner. Many medium-sized companies have the same ambitions, but fewer resources. There is, however, the opportunity for collaboration, especially around Scope 3 emissions between clients and vendors.
Many organizations also discussed how they were having decarbonization discussions around all of their operations – from product formulation and design to merchandise packaging – bringing everyone into the broader sustainability discussion.
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In order to make data-driven decisions, organizations need the data. A strong focus throughout Climate Week was the reliance on data that can measure success and carbon performance, not only for internal use, decision-making and milestones, but for the ever-increasing need to publicly publish relevant sustainability data.
It’s essential to reduce consumption, but it’s also essential to know how well consumption reduction efforts are working. Energy efficiency needs to increase, and organizations need to know how much more efficiently their operations are functioning. Having the right governance and tools in place to track, manage and report on decarbonization data was a universal discussion across sectors and regions – and allows any organization to make the educated decisions necessary to move forward.
Decarbonization efforts across large, global organizations are a balance between customizing solutions for local environments – office buildings, factories, local suppliers – and finding efficiencies of scale that can be replicated across a whole footprint. Because of this, governments and similar organizations with broader influence may be best equipped to help facilitate and find consistency across organizations. They may be able to assist with the establishment of consistent standards by facilitating dialogue among industry, NGOs, policymakers, and others. Climate change is impacting all of us, and so we all have to work together for a solution.
Just like in years past, Climate Week brought together ambitious, genuine authorities from around the world and across various industries, all driven toward the common goal of ensuring the planet continues to be inhabitable well into the future. Each organization renewed its commitment and hopefully felt invigorated to get it done.
Let’s work together to implement your sustainability strategy.