Why this moment could be decisive for tackling climate change: Report

planet B

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity to build a more sustainable world, a new report says.
  • The pandemic has boosted awareness of and support for sustainable practices.
  • Business and investors have a critical role in steering the economic recovery.
  • Global cooperation is needed to make the world more sustainable.

More than half a century ago, one of the first images of Earth adrift in space was taken by the Apollo 8 space mission. The shot is often credited with creating an attitude shift that helped inspire the environmental movement.

Now COVID-19 could have brought the world to a similar “Earthrise” moment of realization, suggests a new report.

 

The Sustainability Trends Report 2020, compiled by Generation Investment Management (GIM), says the pandemic has boosted awareness of the urgent need for a decisive shift to sustainability. The economic and social hiatus caused by the outbreak provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reevaluate how we live, work, and what we want or need to consume, the report states. It could be a powerful catalyst for a more sustainable future.

 This iconic 1968 “Earthrise” photo.
This iconic 1968 “Earthrise” photo was one of the first images of the planet taken from deep space.
Image: Apollo 8 NASA
Great expectations

While the current threat to global health can be mitigated by the development of an effective vaccine, and economies regenerated over time by financial stimuli, there is no simple antidote to the climate crisis, the report warns.

Global land and ocean.
Global land and ocean.
Image: NOAA

Land and ocean temperatures are approaching 1℃ rises above pre-industrial averages, data from NOAA shows. Within the past two decades, natural catastrophes, such as droughts, floods and severe storms, have increased more than threefold – from around 250 in 1980 to almost 850 in 2018.

Despite global calls to reduce emissions from environmentalists, climatologists, industrialists and politicians, emissions remain on an upward trajectory.

Energy related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019.
Energy related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019.
Image: IEA

Since 1990, emissions in advanced economies have remained relatively stable, but have more than doubled in the rest of the world, peaking at 22 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2019, mostly due to the booming industrial growth of emerging economies in regions like Asia.

To stop global temperatures exceeding 1.5℃ above pre-industrial times, the report notes, emissions need not just to stop increasing, they need to fall by 7.6% per year for the next decade, more than the expected drop from COVID-19 in 2020.

Efforts underway

The good news is that it’s not too late to reverse climate change, the report says. But we need new approaches that speed up the switch to sustainability.

GIM sees that while the pandemic has exposed social and economic inequalities and revealed how vulnerable the planet and its inhabitants are to sudden shocks, it has also raised awareness of the fragility of our natural system and the need for a unified approach to fighting climate change.

Environmentally sustainable business practices are on the up, the report shows, and global infrastructure investments are crucially aligned with the transition to net-zero emissions.

Many financial institutions are moving towards more sustainable investments, driven by recognition of the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and growing calls by clients for ethical transparency.

Responsible investment: An agenda gathering momentum.
Responsible investment: An agenda gathering momentum.
Image: PRI

The UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment is working towards a sustainable global financial system. There are more than 2,000 signatories from institutional investors representing $80 trillion of assets. Climate change risks (and opportunities) are also being integrated into financial services, making a strong business case for more sustainable practices. That said, there is still a long way to go before all investors and companies fully move on from simply maximizing shareholder returns.

Amid UN calls to “build back better”, the pandemic represents a unique opportunity to rebuild the global economy with the planet’s health in mind, according to the report.

Actors like the European Commission, France, Canada and the UK, have put stimulus packages in place which prioritize a sustainable recovery, but the bulk of post-lockdown stimulus packages are aimed at a return to business as usual. But business and investors have a critical role in steering economic recovery towards a more sustainable future.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.

The pandemic has shown the willingness of some companies to step forward, commit resources and work with others to help the fight against COVID-19, the report states. A continued attitude of cooperation and redefining stakeholder responsibilities to include the health of the planet is key to an effective recovery.

The World Economic Forum is calling for a “great reset”, in which the world acts jointly and quickly to reinvigorate every aspect of our societies and economies, requiring commitments from all countries to transform every economic sector and build a better, more sustainable society.

If we want to keep the planet looking as it did in that iconic Apollo 8 image, this – it’s becoming increasingly clear – is the moment to act.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

These are the countries best prepared for health emergencies

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by Black doctors, suggests new study

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Here are five things to know about the future of being human

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Here’s what I learned at Davos 2020

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

5 priorities for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Copyright: MEPs update rules for the digital age

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

I created a class to teach zero waste. It turned into so much more

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

‘Our goal is to democratize the air.’ How aerial transportation will shape cities of the future

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Celebrating Gaston Ramon – the vet who discovered vaccinology’s secret weapon

2 trillion drinks containers are made every year – so where do they go?

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

There are 3 barriers blocking good menstrual hygiene for all women. Here’s how we overcome them

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s