The last chance to save earth for ourselves and the generations to come: What leading companies must do now

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The IPCC’s report unequivocally links climate change to human activity and sets the deadline for our last chance to act. That deadline is now. 

The Report 

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ‘the world’s top authority on climate science’, have released their latest assessment report (AR6). The AR6 combines the last 8 years of work from hundreds of experts and peer-review studies. It represents the world’s complete knowledge to date on climate change and its message is far from hopeful. 

The AR6 states, “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”.  

The Paris agreement signed by virtually every country in the world set a goal of limiting the levels of global warming to 1.5°C. This goal is now only achievable under the most conservative emissions estimates and the most aggressive reduction policies. The temperature has already increased 1.1°C since pre-industrial times, caused by the emission of 2,400bn tonnes of CO2. The AR6 assesses that emissions of 500bn tonnes more would leave only a 50-50 chance of staying under 1.5°C. At current rates we would breach this emissions budget in 12 and half years. 

The authors believe that 1.5°C will be reached by 2040 in all scenarios. If emissions aren’t slashed in the next few years, this will happen even earlier. “We will hit one-and-a-half degrees in individual years much earlier. We already hit it in two months during the El Niño in 2016,” said Prof Malte Meinshausen, an IPCC author from the University of Melbourne in Australia. “The new report’s best estimate is the middle of 2034”. 

What this means  

There will be an increasing occurrence of extreme events, unprecedented in the observational record, even at 1.5°C of global warming. With every additional increment of global warming, changes in extremes become larger. For every additional 0.5°C of global warming there will be clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes, heatwaves, heavy precipitation events and agricultural and ecological droughts. This means millions of lives put at risk by loss of water supply, intense heatwaves and prophetic flooding.  

Under the most conservative scenario considered in the AR6 practically all the sea ice in the Arctic is likely to melt at least once before 2050, with more frequent occurrences for higher warming levels. This means millions of people under threat from sea level rise as previously generational homelands are lost to expanding and ever warming oceans.  

This is not just an issue for governments and politicians. This is an issue for every organisation, every individual, every person on this planet. Helen Clarkson, the CEO of the Climate Group, which represents organisations covering 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy, says: “Every decision, every investment, every target, needs to have the climate at its core”. If we are not able to do this on a global scale then “by the time of the next IPCC report, at the end of this decade, 1.5°C will be out the window.” (António Guterres, UN secretary general). 

The consumer goods industry accounts for 60% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, therefore it is vital that all businesses, big or small, drastically reduce their emissions. Global supply chains have the greatest room for improvement. A McKinsey study revealed that the typical consumer company’s supply chain creates significantly greater social and environmental costs than its own operations. Supply chain impacts account for more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of the impact on air, land, water, biodiversity and geological resources. Of the companies that report their greenhouse-gas emissions to CDP, a non-profit organisation that promotes disclosure of environmental impact data, only 25% engage their suppliers in efforts to reduce emissions. 

How to be part of the solution 

At 4C we recognise that businesses will want to make environmental costs a bigger part of their value decisions. Especially with emissions reporting requirements getting tougher around the addition of Scope 3, which requires the organisation to consider up to 17 additional sources of GHG emissions. 

Scope 3 GHG emissions are not only the largest component of a typical organisations total carbon footprint but are also the most difficult to calculate. Because most of these GHG sources originate within the supply base, the procurement function is being looked to for leadership in this area.  

To address this complex problem, we have extended our analytics to provide a comprehensive calculation of GHG footprint based on the GHG Protocol and Technical Guidance for Calculating Scope 3 Emissions using secondary research sources. 

We also recognised that to report effectively, we must keep track of all projects that reduce or offset our carbon footprint. Therefore, we have modified our savings tracking software to accommodate carbon savings projects, so that the effects of our mitigation and offsetting activities can be reported consistently.  

*Total GHG reduction by month

Our innovation has improved visibility of carbon emissions and allows clients to engage with suppliers and make GHG emissions, like cost, quality and delivery, an integral part of supplier relationships. 

If you want to learn more about what 4C do in this area and how we can support your business, reach out to … 

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