Climate report a 'final wake-up call' to businesses

Business leaders in the UK have accepted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) damning report on humans' role in global warming represents "a final wake-up call" over the need for decisive action.

An image of a green landscape of the future
The IPCC report from the UN's international panel of scientists said climate change had already arrived and that some of the effects, including rising sea levels, might take hundreds or even thousands of years to reverse.Matthew Fell, chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that if anybody still had doubts about the scale of the climate crisis, "this report must surely put those to bed".He said that the COP26 climate conference, which more than 150 national leaders will attend in Glasgow in November, must be the trigger for urgent action from countries around the world."It requires joint efforts by governments, businesses and consumers," he said. "Committing to and achieving net zero is paramount and the UK must look to lead by example, establishing the policy and tax frameworks to make it possible.“Businesses understand the vital role they must play and many are putting net zero plans in place. We need to see more of those commitments and acting on the pledges made, as soon as possible.”
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Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group - an alliance of business, political and civil society leaders committed to action for a sustainable economy - said the IPCC report had "huge" implications for policymakers over tackling greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the levels of climate change the world is already locked into."To keep the 1.5C target alive and adapt to a changing climate, governments around the world must provide unequivocally clear policy signals to significantly accelerate the investment that is urgently needed in ultra-low carbon infrastructure and nature-based solutions," he said."The business and finance communities have a clear role to play too by taking on credible net-zero emissions and biodiversity restoration targets and delivery plans."He said the expected publication of the Net Zero Strategy in the UK and the finalisation of a new Environment Bill presented the government with a unique opportunity "to set out the detailed and comprehensive policy framework to unleash the low-carbon investment that is needed across the UK’s homes, industry, energy, transport and land management sectors and maximise the job creation opportunities that will come with this".Emma Cox, global sustainability and climate change leader at PwC, described the IPCC report as the most advanced and authoritative analysis of the climate system to date."For companies with a global footprint, the report provides the most detailed analysis of where and how your operations, supply chains and markets are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," she said."Climate science should remain the hard basis for all decision-making and target setting. In parallel, it must be used to inform and instigate a strong policy response to close the remaining ambition gap to keep the Paris Agreement objectives alive.”CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts, said the report provided a stark warning that disastrous climate "tipping points" were close to hand.The organisation's global director of policy engagement and external affairs, Pietro Bertazzi, said: "This is our final wake-up call. "As we approach the historic COP26 meeting in November, it could not be more important that governments strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions and put in place roadmaps and policies to get there."Businesses, too, must act faster. Whilst we are seeing huge momentum in net-zero pledges from corporates globally, it is vital that companies have interim science-based targets in line with 1.5°C, that these are backed up by robust and credible transition plans, and that they can be held to account. Now is not the time for words, it is the time for action."We’d also urge all governments, investors and businesses to ensure that climate change isn’t approached in isolation. Environmental issues are inter-connected, and, as a result, the IPCC report confirms there is absolutely no way of managing global warming without tackling biodiversity, forests and oceans - if we don’t tackle nature and climate together, we solve neither."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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