Mainstreaming NET-ZERO: Innovation, Growth and Transition

COVID-19 paused but did not slow the relentless advance of climate change which is one of the most pressing problems facing our world today. The urgency of the climate crisis requires swift and ambitious action to reduce emissions. According to the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. The policymakers, business leaders, social sector experts and everyday people are realizing how dire our situation has become.

Temperatures will continue to rise, chaotic weather events such as droughts, floods, fires, and extinction will worsen. Even a best-case outcome looks increasingly grim. The scientific consensus is that we’ve locked ourselves into a warming planet, and the choices we make in the immediate future will only determine just how bad conditions will become.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, where other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.

But there's a growing awareness of the scale of action needed to drive down carbon, and the innovation required to make net zero achievable which can help to meet the urgent challenges posed by the climate crisis. It is revealed that human activities affect all major climate system components, with some responding over decades and others over centuries. The below graph clearly indicates that human influence has warmed the climate which has brought change in global temperature.

Note – Shaded areas show possible range for simulated scenarios, Source-IPCC, 2021: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58130705 “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai

"Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage" UN chief

Facts to Watch

  • Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900
  • Human influence is "very likely" (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice
  • The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971
  • Sea level rise of around 2m by the end of this century and 5m rise by 2150 Source- https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

Mainstreaming the business needs towards Net Zero

There is a propelling need for all businesses to look through their goals and objectives, to understand how dynamic a role they can play in making the earth a green, safe and pollution-free haven. Several countries have started heading towards creating their economy Net Zero emissions, focussing on ESG aspects and we look forward to bringing about this change in India as well. It can be seen from the below graph that most emissions come from just few countries.

Source: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition/

The objective of Net Zero is not just to track and reduce emissions, but to completely stop the carbon emissions by bringing about a balance through absorbing an equal amount from atmosphere.

In the wake of current health scenarios, businesses have been focusing on ways to reduce emissions and creating a pollution-free environment in this decade. The realization to restrain global warming and head towards a 1.5 degrees world is the need of the hour. This will not only help in flourishing the existing businesses but will also up the graph of employment.

While 24 of the top Indian companies have already committed to the Net Zero emission approach, we aim to target more companies and fill in the gap that remains. ESG considerations can proffer a new strategic lens to view and assess the business decisions under SDG-led scenario. At macro level, linking of SDGs to existing ESG considerations will serve as a common communication medium to shape and articulate business decision-making process and investment strategies.

To eradicate climate changes as a road blockage to achieving SDGs, businesses will have to act responsibly and commit to the net-zero approach.

The Business Statement: For a liveable climate: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action

Globally, countries (more than 130 countries), companies, cities and financial institutions, have now set or are considering a target of reducing emissions to net zero by mid-century. While net zero is a critical longer-term goal, steep emissions cuts – especially by the largest greenhouse-gas emitters – are imperative in the next 5 to 10 years in order to keep global warming to no more than 1.5 °C and safeguard a liveable climate.

“Leading companies are already acting, but time is of the essence. More must join, so we can move faster, together, into a sustainable future. With so much uncertainty in the world, set against the backdrop of accelerating climate change, now is the time to collaborate”

The Net Zero Strategy Framework for Businesses

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