Why Climate Action Matters
Climate change is caused by human activities and is threatening the way we live and the future of our planet. By addressing climate change, we can build a sustainable world for everyone. But we need to act now.
Are people’s lives really being affected by climate change?
Yes. Severe weather and rising sea levels are affecting people and their property in developed and developing countries. From a small farmer in the Philippines to a businessman in London, climate change is affecting everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable, as well as marginalized groups like women, children, and the elderly.
What happens if we don’t take action?
If left unchecked, climate change will undo a lot of the progress made over the past years in development. It can also exacerbate, as we are already seeing, current threats such as food and water scarcity, which can lead to conflict. Doing nothing will end up costing us a lot more than if we take actions now that will lead to more jobs, greater prosperity, and better lives while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience.
The Business Case
A $6 billion USD investment in disaster risk reduction over the next 15 years would avoid losses of $360 billion USD.
Can we solve this problem or is it too late to act?
We can definitely address climate change, but we have to vastly increase our efforts. The world must transform its energy, industry, transport, food, agriculture and forestry systems to ensure that we can limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, maybe even 1.5. We also need to anticipate, adapt and become resilient to the current and future impacts of climate change.
In December 2015, the world took a significant first step by adopting the Paris Agreement, in which all countries committed to take action to address climate change. Many businesses and investors are also committing themselves to lower their emissions through the Climate Action Agenda, an effort born at the 2014 Climate Summit in New York to bring governments, businesses and civil society together to embark on new initiatives that promote climate action.
How much would it cost to solve this problem?
The way to think about it is not in terms of how expensive it will be, but how much we need to invest and what investment opportunities there are to address climate change. In total, public and private sector investment in clean energy needs to reach at least US$1 trillion per year by 2030, and more to build climate resilience.
This sounds like a lot, but consider that of the US$1.6 trillion invested in the global energy supply in 2013, nearly 70% was related to fossil fuels. What’s more is that the estimated costs of mitigation do not account for the benefits of reduced climate change. Investments of only $6 billion disaster risk reduction over the next 15 years would result in total benefits of the $360 billion in terms of avoided losses over the lifetime of the investment.
By acting now, we save lives, money, and avoid setbacks in the progress we have achieved to date.
The Case for Business
In 2015, global investment in renewables attracted $286 billion USD, more than twice as much as fossil fuels
What is the role of businesses in addressing climate change?
Many business leaders around the world have realized that climate change and environmental degradation pose important new risks and opportunities for their
companies’ competitiveness, growth and development, and are turning the climate challenge into a market opportunity.
Businesses are providing climate solutions through their innovation and long-term investment in energy efficiency and low-carbon development. A great number of them have joined the Climate Action Agenda, an effort born at the 2014 Climate Summit in New York to bring governments, businesses and civil society together to embark on new initiatives that promote climate action.
How can my business take climate action?
Companies can be part of the solution by committing to decarbonize their operations and supply chains. They can do this by:
• Improving their energy efficiency
• Reducing the carbon footprint of their
products, services and processes
• Setting emissions reductions targets in line with climate science
• Scaling up investment in the development of innovative and inclusive low- carbon, climate-smart products and services
• Prepare to adapt to climate change and build resilience in their operations, supply chains and the communities in which they operate
Are there other ways to take climate action?
Industries vary greatly, so there are many approaches. One way to get your business involved is to join the UN Caring for Climate initiative. Launched in 2007 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the initiative helps companies to advance practical solutions, share experiences, inform public policy as well as shape public attitudes.
Caring for Climate
A call to companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.