How to lead and flourish in a climate-changed world

Written by By Linda Buckley-Archer, CNN

COP26 , the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, failed to agree on binding emission reduction targets. That’s far from a surprise. It’s clear that we’re wasting time.

The scientific evidence of the urgent need to act is beyond question. But how do we make a change?

After examining the evidence and with support from businesses, technology and civil society, we focused on doing business differently. In that context, we advocated a ‘light on the side’ approach — a continual evolution in thinking and how we operate. This should reflect the diversity of our business customers and our diversity of business needs.

Reuters Staff Photographer / Reuters A boy walks past the cover of Al Gore’s book ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ in Zurich, Switzerland.

What does this all mean in practice?

The first is shared value — the investment in impact investing, in sustainability, the ability to drive efficiency in our supply chains and avoiding conflicts to secure sustainable supplies of materials.

The second is differentiation — adopting consistent standards for our employees and partners across the supply chain. We need to help people, especially women, to transition out of poverty and into better paid jobs.

The third is a movement for change — engaging with all stakeholders — customers, governments, partners. As the climate changes — changes caused by us, including our own actions — we need a better way to engage with all stakeholders.

We are moving in the right direction but there’s still so much to do.

COP26 was a predictable failure. It was centered around an ever-worsening global divide between developed countries that see climate change as their problem, and developing countries that believe it is a human right.

There was no real commitment from all the countries to agree on those targets that people were most concerned about; there was little agreement among the different meetings on what the post-2020 targets should be; and there was no binding commitment on specific investments from the developed world.

It remains unlikely that we will agree climate targets at Paris 2.0. Here in Scotland, the government of the UK is among those resisting taking on the responsibilities of the climate change.

(At COP26 ,I was pleased to see organizations take important steps and share the challenges they face from a changing climate. Sport Glasgow was one, hosting a celebration concert on the river Clyde in Glasgow for the start of COP26 and, through its ETS — Climate Week — encouraging people to take action. Others included leading multinational utility, RWE. This is exactly the kind of action we need to take in order to maximise opportunities for business.)

‘How it works’ is a tool that is part of CarbonIQ’s platform for businesses to plan climate change risks and act. The purpose is to stimulate the drive for change and lay the foundations for the next climate change talks in December.

We must remember to implement a strategy and execute it at scale. Just because we can’t agree at COP, or the next meeting, doesn’t mean that action can’t happen. All you need to do is look at the work we are already doing.

RWE, a large European power company, set ambitious targets for achieving total turnover efficiency of 7.5% and for a procurement and supply chain partner and employee carbon footprint of around 65% by 2020.

It plans to improve the efficiency of its fleet of 15,000 plus high energy vehicles by 7.5% by 2020. To date, it has worked towards 40% efficiency improvements on average across its entire fleet of vehicles. The vast majority of the fleet will be hybrid.

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