Steve Malkin, CEO and Founder of the Planet Mark, argues that when it comes to climate change, decisive action is needed, not debate
UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent proclamation that ‘our planet is broken’ as a result of climate change is another stark reminder that the time for debate is over and decisive action is critical. The 2015 Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a valid framework for reducing emissions, which the science has told us have to be at least halved by 2030. Guterres’ objective to communicate the message that global emissions must be cut by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels is welcome news, as we slide into the second year of the ‘Decade of Action’ and, as an organisation, ramp up our rally cry to businesses to help achieve net zero carbon by 2030.
However, there is still a huge misconception that climate change is a long-term goal. We cannot wait until 2050, that’s simply too late. Action is critical now and immediate change is required, so we believe that what COP26 must achieve is to engage with all 195 signatory countries to impress upon world leaders that they need to let everyone on the planet know that there is an urgent climate crisis and communicate the role they need to play to address it, as a collective.
The challenge for COP26 will also be to persuade climate change deniers and those countries that have longer-term targets to bring their ambitions forward and take leadership at the country level to communicate the message that all their citizens globally need to come with us on the journey, to remove doubt and to follow the signs to take action. Governments are currently lagging behind. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, they need to listen to the science, learn from the people and act urgently.
The appointment of Alok Sharma to work full-time on COP26 and climate change UN special envoy Mark Carney’s role as adviser to the PM is a positive sign that the UK Government is taking this seriously, but it needs to provide a regulatory framework for the business community, which understands that action is needed.
We also agree with Mark Carney’s proposal that banks, insurers and investors can profit from “changing consumer preferences and new climate policies”. We believe this shift is a fundamental step forward in transitioning the whole economy to a zero-carbon, regenerative economy. We need to adopt science-based targets and deliver climate legislation consistently across nations. This will set the path to accelerate funding and business commitments to meet these goals and deliver the innovation and sustainable growth that is so urgently needed. Our work with organisations across the UK and internationally suggests that the business community want stronger commitments to mitigate the climate crisis.
My fundamental hope for COP26 is that there is a greater understanding of how we are all interconnected with the natural world and that the solutions harmonise the best of people, technology and nature for the greater good.
A Green Industrial Revolution
At the same time, we welcome Boris Johnson’s 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to build back better, with the planet at the heart of recovery from the pandemic, to protect our futures by protecting nature. Critics have commented that the funding may be low but at least it is a step in the right direction, and we are hopeful this will encourage more funding from both the private and public sectors.
New jobs in the ‘green’ sector are welcomed too, but we also need to make the industry accessible to everyone across a wide spectrum of society. Training will be essential to facilitate this, but it’s not clear what the government’s plans for support are yet.
We support many of the initiatives proposed such as carbon capture and storage clusters and the Public Sector Decarbonisation schemes, plus policies to accelerate private sector investment in the transition to net-zero. But we’d like to see these rapidly accelerate in development during 2021.
We encourage all of our members across the Planet Mark community to see what roles they can play at business or industry level in supporting the proposed Net Zero Taskforce of business leaders as the catalyst to green recovery and to put the UK on target to meet its net-zero goal.
We eagerly await the publication of the Energy White Paper and hope this will be speedy in delivery with immediately actionable plans. Ambitious and urgent action is needed across all areas, as we are now in the second year during the Decade of Action.
Benefits of the natural world and outside space
During the pandemic, we have all seen the benefits of the natural world and outside space. We have experienced how we depend on nature rather than it being dependent on us. The time for talking is over, people are taking action as they want to see positive change. The steps to carbon neutrality are realistic and achievable for businesses and individuals. We believe that our goal of achieving zero carbon by 2030 rather than at a later date will result in the environment being in a better position to overcome climate damage from years of detrimental human and business action. Action is needed urgently to reach the targets agreed to protect all our futures across the planet, and this incredible journey is one we all need to be on together.
The global response to climate change – by the Editor of Open Access Government
The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations entity responsible for supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. (1) On 21st January 2020, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for bringing the U.S back into the Paris Agreement and said: “I am looking forward to seeing ambitious targets in the U.S. NDC to accelerate climate action.” (2)
Shortly before that, Espinosa highlighted the crucial importance of a swift transition to sustainable energy to combat the climate crisis facing the world. In the view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), roughly two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to CO2 from industrial processes and fossil fuel combustion. “Energy is at the heart of the climate change emergency and it must be at the heart of its solution. A swift and broad transition to renewable energy will be essential to achieve the emission reduction goals laid down by the Paris Agreement,” Ms Espinosa comments. (3)
In other news, the UNFCCC reported that 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, rivalling 2016 for the top spot, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres notes that with 1.2 degrees of warming today, we already witness “unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent.” He warns we are heading towards “a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius” during the 21st century. “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere,” Guterres adds. (4)
Editor's Recommended Articles
Must Read >> What is COP25 and will it solve the climate crisis?
Must Read >> The leadership challenge of COP26, 2021