The World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland began with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stating that climate change should be a major issue each country should work on. Climate change does not just affect one country, it affects each and every country regardless of their development status. The Prime Minister affirmed that countries, after any forum, claim they will work together to adapt to, mitigate and reduce climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius, yet countries have failed to work together to live up to their environmental pledges.
Climate change is a threat to human existence. When countries work in solidarity, climate change can be reduced. The Paris Agreement is a reminder for countries within, even the United States, on how they should work to mitigate Climate Change. The commitments made in the Paris Agreement to solve the crisis are to be reviewed every five years by each country. The WEF in Davos focused on Climate change because of the financial and business opportunities (6 Trillion dollars) which are in solar, wind and electric cars among other technology advances. However, there needs to be more political will to drive change within companies that do not adhere to a country’s commitments made in Paris. There also needs more political and business will to understand the science of climate change and not ignore the facts.
The French President Emmanuel Macron announced France will shut down all coal-fired power stations by 2021. He also added he will make climate action one of five pillars in his plans to reform the economy. Coal power plants are being shut down all over the world. Yet developing countries that are affected more by climate change experiencing either increase sea levels, for tropical countries and/or drought in Sub-Saharan countries want to invest in coal in their own countries. WEF noted that countries need not tell developing countries to not use electricity but focus on more renewable sources (clean energy).
Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group said his companies will commit to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change by setting science-based targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. He is working on his top emitting companies to be the first step-up to commit to reducing climate change.
Business, if not careful, will face the costliest impact of climate change. For instance, with increasing levels of drought, businesses will be forced to dig deep into their pockets to have water, a natural resource. Sourcing power from hydroelectric energy will become more expensive when the water levels drop. Especially when countries have not invested in other renewable energy sources. [Maybe, the recent cause for Kenya Power to increase electricity costs could be a way for the citizens to be persuaded to support the coal power plant in Lamu. Stay woke people]
Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace reminded leaders in Davos to connect the dots on climate change. Leaders were urged to move together with citizens, customers and employees and increasing the pace and scale of climate action. In 2017 alone, forests the size of New Zealand was logged. Most European countries have coal power plants. Germany being the largest coal power plant producer has a commitment to divest from coal by 2030. This involves a lot of action on the ground as well as getting their coal plant employees employment opportunities.
Our economic mindset needs to shift. Rather than focusing on the market and growth, we should focus on how we are affecting the planet and how businesses are shaping people’s lives. Business should be able to answer the question whether they will exist 100 years from now. Businesses also have a critical role to play in achieving the scale of decarbonization needed. Some companies have greenhouse emissions equivalent to what an individual country produces. Large greenhouse emission scales should come with immense responsibilities. Industries need to transform their role in creating a more sustainable world. 2018 has only begun and it will be a pivotal year for climate change if action is done and not only spoken of. In 2020, countries will be meeting to take stock of their national climate plans as was stated in the Mission Innovation initiative.
As a country, we should reach a point where we tell our leaders we will not vote for them unless they seek to reduce climate change. Developing countries can be clean and developed at the same time as technology is an enabler and we can use it to our advantage. The private sectors working together with the government, whom are huge job creators should also focus on clean energy sources and investing in such. With the rate of deforestation and a pending coal power plant, more action needs to be taken to step up on clean energy and policies to curb illegal logging.
A final note from Risalat Khan (an activist and intrapreneur from Bangladesh passionate about addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and other existential challenges.). The youth play an important role to mitigate climate change as they have a clear moral clarity of this crisis for this generation, they have the disruptive energy to drive this change and they also have the technical savvy to share knowledge and built networks. Young people have the voice to spur change.