India’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 at the COP26 has signaled urgency for climate action with its ripples being felt across the world as many more countries also committed towards a net-zero future. The historical Union Budget this year with its strong focus on climate action further accelerated the momentum and placed climate planning on a pedestal. Govt. bodies, Businesses and the Society at large have become conscious of the current climate crisis.
However, the rhetoric has not translated into an equivalent action. While there is an accelerated need for climate action, the pace has been slow. Implementation of corrective measures is yet to catch a pace that supersedes the emission levels to mitigate the climate crisis. There is an urgent need to close the gap between rhetoric and subsequent action to achieve the net-zero targets set at COP26.
A Plan Towards a Net-zero Future
Climate is an essential element for the sustenance of lives and livelihoods on earth. Climate action is, therefore, important and needs utmost management in all its stages from planning to implementation, for a successful net-zero future.
The most important source for any country to achieve its targets is its climate sensitive people that predominantly include businesses and the industrial sector – big and small given their rate of emissions through industrial activities. Businesses and organizations that take their climate responsibilities seriously and adopt sustainable industrial practices, can significantly contribute to a safer and greener tomorrow.
Adopting climate best practices enable businesses to not only enhance their brand value but also gain a competitive advantage in the market while increasing their productivity for greater financial gains.
The most feasible pathways to net-zero include 5 key approaches:
- Be conscious of climate nuances – The first step for any business beginning its climate journey is to sensitize itself on its role in enabling a net-zero future. Businesses should consult climate experts for an in-depth advisory on their emission levels, their resultant impact on climate and the corrective measures they can adopt.
- Making climate action a part of corporate governance – With a better understanding of climate nuances and their responsibilities towards mitigating the change, businesses can progress to the second step which is to include these responsibilities as an important part of their corporate governance framework. This will enable them to follow life-long climate best practices and be climate sensitive at all stages of their business growth.
- Designing a strategic roadmap – A strong framework is essential as it will empower businesses to plan for a more impactful action plan, which is the third step for a successful climate journey. It is important to consult climate experts at this stage also as they will help to define long-term climate goals with complementary solutions to achieve these. Experts can help create a scientifically designed action plan for effective measures to offset emissions and reduce carbon footprints.
The action plan should include efficient and comprehensive climate strategies that are in alignment with the Paris Agreement. There should be scope for the implementation of technology innovations given that a large part of global reductions in CO2 emissions between now and 2030 in the net-zero pathway will come from technologies readily available today. Negative Emission Technology (NET) solutions and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) like afforestation, reforestation, land management, biodiversity conservation amongst others, are yet another innovative intervention that should be included in the action plan.
- Implementing the roadmap – Once climate goals and a strategic plan are established, we arrive at the fourth step which is the implementation. Businesses should aim to ensure that all their current emissions are balanced by removals and sequestrations. Renewables should be adopted to limit environmental impact while being energy efficient.
- Evaluation of corrective measures – Finally, businesses should track their climate actions at regular intervals to evaluate their efficiency and incorporate requisite course corrections. After evaluation, alternate strategies that are sustainable and less emission intensive should be adopted if required. Businesses that have been able to reduce their emissions should widen the scope of their climate goals for higher emission reduction levels to enable higher contributions to global targets.
The Way Forward
Net-zero targets are long-term. To achieve these long-term targets, we must set short-term targets. The absence of a well-designed approach may lead to wastage of resources or delay in meeting targets. The world, therefore, needs a clear step-by-step roadmap to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change and enable drastic reductions in emissions.
Climate action though prevalent across the globe still requires widespread adoption. If more businesses adopt climate action, it will translate into stronger effects towards lowering global emission levels.
COP 26 gives us hope and a path for better climate change governance so let’s strive to achieve it.
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