Climate protection demand heats up

Climate protection demand heats up

By Louis Rumao

Running a business was never easy, but it just got even more difficult, with climate protection demand from school children and the new “Purpose of a Corporation” statement issued by the Business Roundtable organisation
Climate protection demand heats up

Are we doing enough for climate protection? Global temperatures have already risen by about 1.1 degree Celsius since preindustrial times and climate scientists warn that the planet is on track for a catastrophic 3-degree Celsius rise in temperature by the end of this century.
Keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold intended to avoid catastrophic impacts, will require at least a tripling of the emissions reductions promised in the Paris accord. Containing the increase within a somewhat safer 1.5 degrees would mean boosting ambitions at least fivefold: Cutting emissions 45% by 2030 and to net zero by mid-century.

A UN report released recently showed that the Group of 20 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions are falling short of meeting even their modest climate pledges under the Paris agreement, which in itself is insufficient to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change. “We are not just a little off track, we are really off track,” said Hoehne, a lead author of the report.

The United Nations’ Climate Action Summit was held in New York on September 23, 2019, featuring political leaders, along with businesses and other organisations from more than 60 countries. Each speaker was allowed three minutes to reveal plans to step up emissions reductions.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to come not with “fancy speeches,” but with concrete plans to cut more planet-heating pollution than their countries agreed to in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement.
Dozens of countries have pledged to reduce their emissions to carbon-neutral levels by mid-century. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to bring online more renewable energy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to double financial contributions to a global climate change fund. Other representatives – national and business leaders also detailed plans to slash emissions from their respective areas. The world is hoping the same from China — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — to hasten emissions reductions.

Youth to the rescue

Companies are paying attention to managing the use of natural resources in the most effective and efficient manner in order to reduce environmental impacts and financial costs. Much of this is action is driven by regulations and the possibility of enhancing profits. But know that a new push is coming from our children!
Friday, September 20, 2019 may be remembered as the largest global youth demonstration ever in the fight against climate change. Inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, young people around the world have organized to skip school and protest in the street, under the banner of “Fridays for the Future”,to address the climate crisis and claiming that the adults aren’t doing enough to transition off fossil fuels.

Young environmental activists are already looking beyond the official UN gathering, recognizing that it will take sustained pressure to spur governments, many of them allied with the fossil fuel industry, to take meaningful action. As the summit got underway, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, currently the most prominent face of the youth climate movement “Fridays for the Future”, delivered a blunt and emotional speech excoriating world leaders for their inaction. “You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” She had begun with launching school strikes last year. She added: “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.”

The reality

Some of the countries who participated in the summit are deeply invested in the continued use of the fossil fuels. These include China and India, which need to continue relying on coal and fossil fuels. The United States is among a number of countries that have shifted inward toward economic nationalism with continued reliance on fossil fuels. President Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris agreement and his intention to relax vehicle emissions standard may hurt the cause.
New business operating guidelines

Since 1978, Business Roundtable (www.BusinessRoundtable.org) has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance. Each version of the document issued since 1997 has maintained that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders. But not so anymore! A new statement issued August 2019, and signed by 181CEO’s on the Purpose of a Corporation have committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.
“This new statement better reflects the way corporations can and should operate today,” added Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson and Chair of the Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee. “It affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.”

The bottom line

So, managing your company just got a bit more difficult – now you have to satisfy not only the traditional stakeholders, but also need to pay heed to your children’s initiatives. Many of you may even look on these additional challenges as new opportunities.

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