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Businesses urged to step up environmental ambitions

Businesses urged to step up environmental ambitions

Businesses urged to step up environmental ambitions

Businesses have a key role to play in protecting the environment and mitigating the effects of climate change, and should have high ambitions for what they hope to achieve in this regard.

That is one of the key messages conveyed in the Aim Higher report from the Carbon Trust. The study points out that the Paris Agreement on climate change included the ambitious goal to cap increases in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

This is a big challenge, seeing as global warming has already exceeded pre-industrial levels by one degree, but the Carbon Trust stressed there is "still a window of opportunity" to achieve the 1.5-degree target.

For businesses, there are some very powerful reasons to get involved in the mission to tackle climate change. Rising temperatures can have consequences such as damage to buildings and infrastructure, reduced agricultural productivity and supply chain disruption.

Speaking to edie, Hugh Jones, managing director of business advice at the Carbon Trust, pointed out that positive action on this front can also deliver reputational benefits.

Offering some advice to organisations that want to put themselves on the right track, Mr Jones said it is crucial to take early action.

"One of the most important things is to get on the right pathway quickly. The more years spent up above the pathway, the harder it will be to get back and stay on that pathway," he said.

"Action needs to be quick, but married [to] long-term views and plans. By setting a really ambitious plan, organisations aren't just setting themselves on the right track, but stimulating the right attitudes among their employees and partners."

The Carbon Trust report highlights the examples of three businesses - BT, Carlsberg and Tesco - that have set clear, science-based targets that align with a trajectory to meet the Paris Agreement's 1.5C ambition.

BT has already achieved energy savings of £221 million since 2009 and is aiming to use renewable sources to meet all of its global energy requirements by 2020. The telecoms group has set a long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 87 per cent by 2030, compared to 2016-17 levels.

Gabrielle Giner, head of sustainable business policy at BT, acknowledged that this will be a challenge, but said there is a clear path to how it can be achieved. She also pointed out that the initiative will be "good for us as a business and for the wider economy".

Carlsberg's ambitions include reaching a zero-carbon footprint and eliminating water waste at its breweries by 2030.

All businesses can make a contribution to global environmental efforts by switching to zero-carbon energy, using eco-friendly transportation and decarbonising their heating and cooling systems.

Even the smallest firms can do their bit with simple projects such as using recyclable materials and minimising the amount of waste they send to landfill.

 

Posted by Frances Singer

Image courtesy of iStock/lukbar