There has always been a disconnect when communicating climate change. Those in the sustainability sector have found it difficult to meaningfully engage on the key issues we are facing, and how we can make a difference. We have all the facts and none of the actions. We often lean into the big statistics to help grab people's attention. But then find it hard to connect those to our audience in a meaningful way. This either leads to people burning out, becoming anxious or just not seeing their role in the fight against climate change.
This is particularly true of businesses. Many businesses do want to engage on this topic but are unsure of how to do it. They either see it as too costly, or too difficult to achieve real results. For many they are not entirely sure what actions they actually need to take.
If we want to achieve real change, then we need to change the conversation to highlight the issues, but also empower businesses to act on them. So here goes…
The latest science from the IPCC shows that we are almost out of time to limit warming to 1.5°C, and vulnerable ecosystems and communities are being pushed to and beyond their limits.
Greenhouse gas concentrations have reached a new global high in 2020. Our annual mean temperature in 2021 was 1.11°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, and the last 7 years have been the hottest on record.
A New Solution
WWF has developed a leadership action plan for businesses to follow that will limit their impact on the environment. It helps them achieve a credible net-zero target and helps create a strategy to go beyond net-zero to create real solutions within their supply chain - We call it Beyond Net-Zero.
It is a practical guide that includes the key areas where businesses should focus, the best practices for each area and it also includes some suggested metrics for tracking progress.
This new guidance sets out WWF's vision for a corporate climate leader and shows the roadmap companies need to follow. We want companies to use this guidance to strengthen their climate ambitions, set clear targets and take credible actions. We have the solutions available now in all sectors that can more than halve our emissions by 2030. What we need is the will to act.
Going beyond Net-Zero is done by halving emissions by 2030 and achieving Net-Zero by 2050 at the latest. It is done by financing and supporting additional climate and nature solutions within and beyond a company's value chain. By engaging responsibly and actively in climate policy, and by collaborating with other companies and organisations around shared solutions, and enabling and inspiring customers.
We know that no business currently lives up to the criteria we have set out, but that is the point - this is what leadership looks like in a climate emergency.
We don't want to create another toothless initiative that allows brands to greenwash. We want to challenge them. We want to create a place where offsetting is no longer considered a valid option. We cannot offset our way out of a climate emergency. We need companies to limit their impacts and emissions by as much as possible before looking into alternative solutions.
Often new initiatives like this get criticised for being unrealistic with their expectations of business. To avoid those criticisms, and to ensure this action plan can do what we need it to, we have been working with several of our corporate partners to develop it. They are part of a small but growing group of companies that have clearly understood the science, the benefits of cutting emissions and the risks of inaction.
We are living through a defining moment when it comes to addressing climate change. A time when the problem seems overwhelming. Where we are getting updates every week on how dire our situation is. BUT, it is also a time when we are seeing great changes happen.
The public discourse on climate change has never been louder. Policies and agreements like the Glasgow Climate Pact and scaling up the ambition of Government legislation on climate issues. And we are seeing a record number of companies setting Science-Based Targets. There are now 2,253 companies taking action to fight climate change. We are making progress; we just need to make sure it is at the right pace. Climate change is moving faster than we are, so we intend to speed up our actions and help enable real change.
With this guidance, WWF is showing every business how to step up and become a climate leader. We urge your business to commit to Net-Zero and go beyond.
To find out more about our business pathway, please visit our website where you can download the Beyond Net-Zero report.