In the last decade, the warning alerts from global scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has grown louder in intensity each year around the world. We are now fully aware of the growing threat of climate change and the risks to human wellbeing and the health of our planet.
By August 2021, the first part of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report – The Physical Science Basis was described by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres as “code red for humanity”.
It was followed by ‘The Final Warning Bell’ alarming report warning from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group that net negative (Climate Positive (also known as Carbon Negative)) – rather than net zero – strategies are urgently required and current global emissions targets to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2050 is “too little too late”. It is likely that global temperatures will exceed 1.5°C as soon as 2030, taking the world into a zone of dangerous climate change. Net Zero by 2050 is too late.
This week, the second part of IPCC’s 6th assessment report – Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was released with a more ominous warning that the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F). The report reveals that insufficient efforts to reduce the risks of human-induced climate change are causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. It warns that even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible, that risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements. Natural and human systems will be pushed beyond their ability to adapt.
We have all the tools we need to make a just zero carbon world and the will to create that world is growing by the day. The evidence of climate change is indisputable and we have the renewable energy technology to live sustainably. The pressures on the world economy are equally unrelenting with the Covid-19 pandemic exposing cracks in the system, but we have the economic incentive for action on climate change and a green economy can be good for both. Clean Growth is already making a compelling contribution to our economy, driving global ambition to tackle climate change.
Multilateralism is working. While the COP 26 negotiations held in Glasgow in late 2021 may have fallen short of what is so urgently needed to avoid 1.5°C, there is reason for radical hope. There is ‘hope in hell’ if we act NOW. Loss and Damage Reparations, the compensation needed for the damage climate change is already causing, was formally acknowledged by the Glasgow Climate Pact for the first time by the majority of countries. Glasgow accelerated the projected temperature rise down to just 2.4°C with ambition to come back in Sharm el-Sheikh for COP 27 this year with more ambitious targets, this time based on what countries plan to get done by 2030, not by 2050. The IPCC’s 6th assessment report – Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability will help significantly for Sharm el-Sheikh, plus the Convention on Biological Diversity to take place in Kunming in China this April will bring the prospect of two disconnected science-policy processes (climate change and biodiversity) together.
There are many distractions and excuses to delay action. The pandemic complicated our lives and businesses, and we are living in a more dangerous world where a vicious cycle of distrust is led by a growing lack of faith in the media and governments. Putin’s war to bring Ukraine to heel has alarmed many countries, knowing that an isolated tyrant raging at Western sanctions against his regime is capable of just about anything, even starting a nuclear war.
Whatever new order might emerge, it is the responsibility of country leaders to prepare for it. For businesses, societal leadership is now a core function and stakeholders expect businesses to lead, increase ambitions and actions to help preserve our most important assets – people and nature. They want and expect brands to ’Be The Good in the World’.
The threat of disastrous climate change must unite everyone in alarm of the consequences of reaching 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels or higher this decade. It is no longer a problem that for many seems far-off and far away. It is now near our doorstep or already there, and more delays to be Climate Positive (also known as Carbon Negative) will secure a dire future for all.