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Firms should lead war on climate change

Judy Njino

Climate change is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time — and we are at a pivotal moment. The world today is facing unprecedented, interconnected environmental challenges.

If we do not urgently change course, we risk missing our chance to avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

Today, there is a consensus that the climate crisis is directly linked to human activity. The question, therefore, is no longer whether climate change is real but the extent to which human activity is causing it and what can be done to turn this tide around.

Latest research indicates that we will likely miss the Paris agreement targets to limit global average temperatures to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, going by the current global emissions trajectory.

Reversing this trend will require effort from all sectors. Business leaders decisions have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people and the environment. It is, therefore, in their self-interest to work towards securing a sustainable future.

Today, sustainability is increasingly becoming a mainstream business agenda as executives recognise the growing relevance and urgency of global environmental, social, and economic challenges. Regardless of size, location, or sector, businesses are looking beyond the traditional drivers of financial performance, seeing how sustainability issues can affect their bottom line.

To address the climate crisis, business leaders must take action that aligns with the latest climate science. Practically, we need concrete, realistic plans by 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade. 

By working closely with government, business leaders can create a positive ambition loop where both actors share a common goal and push each other towards a more sustainable future.

In September, the UN Secretary-General will convene chief executives, Heads of State, leaders from the UN and civil society to drive greater ambition for a 1.5°C future. Assembled by the UN Global Compact in cooperation with UN partners, the forum will provide a platform for the private sector to demonstrate climate change actions and solutions and progress underway and foster public-private partnerships.

In Kenya, The National Climate Change Action Plan (2018-2022) is our blue print for implementing Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The government has prioritised a response to climate change, by implementing its NDCs commitment to a 30 per cent  reduction of GHGs by 2030.

NCCAP recognises private sector’s role in the development, mainstreaming and implementation of priority climate change actions including adaptation and mitigation. In this regard, the government should then offer incentives to the private sector to increase investments for reducing effects of climate change.

   Companies are called to action to set verifiable science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which independently assesses corporate emissions reduction targets against scientific best practice.

Aligning business models with the latest science is not only the right thing to do, it is also smart and profitable. Businesses that are seizing the opportunities in the green economy are growing and thriving. – The writer is the Executive Director Global Compact Network Kenya.