We’re at the turning point
The idea that climate change impacts will be felt incrementally is now moot. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science “pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large scale impacts.” We need only to look at the recent flooding events in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh that have left more than 1,200 people dead and submerged wide swathes of South Asia, affecting up to 40 million people. Then there were the widely reported hurricane events Harvey, Maria, and Irma, the latter being the biggest Atlantic hurricane in recent history, which displaced millions of people and caused billions in damage.
While media has been reticent to link extreme weather events with climate change, renowned climate scientist James Hansen says that the links are clear, citing sea level rise, increased rainfall, and stronger storms. And we haven’t seen the worst of it. According to Hansen, “we have not yet felt the full impact of the gases that are already in the atmosphere, just because of the delays in the system. It takes decades for the ocean to warm up and for ice sheets to melt. So there’s consequences for young people that are already built into the system”.
By the end of the century, the global temperature is likely to rise more than 2 degrees celsius– the ominous conclusion reached by two different studies published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
What we learned… and how we are evolving our business
Since we first set up shop in 2009 and after completing 250 projects in 11 countries, two things stand out:
First, we need to work harder to align our customers’ level of ambition with the needs of the environment. As the visibility on the planetary tipping points becomes clearer, companies are not able to claim that all action is worthy of recognition– they need to show how they are moving fast enough to take the pressure off the planet.
Fortunately third-party standards are evolving to reflect this trend. Companies will find it more difficult to claim leadership without aligning their programmes with more demanding environmental thresholds. And with the availability of new technology, financing tools, and more skilled human resources, the barriers companies face when scaling up their goals are coming down.
Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet. And never before have we had the power to do something about that.– Sir David Attenborough
Second, we need to integrate carbon with other environmental themes. We started off as a carbon focused service provider, but through the years, we’ve seen that many of our customers have other environmental issues that require managing. For many businesses the approaches historically taken with carbon– establishing the business case, target setting, footprint reporting– work equally well with other environmental issues such as reducing water consumption, stripping pollutants from wastewater discharge, and managing waste. Again tools are evolving. For example the Higg Index FEM 3.0 provides a methodology for engaging textile and apparel manufacturers on chemicals, carbon, and water all within a single framework.
Ultimately this planetary emergency is already turning into an opportunity to mobilise solutions that will create a more resilient and sustainable world. And we at RESET Carbon are prepared to take you from idea to the implementation phase of your most ambitious environmental footprint reduction programme.