August 17, 2021
The latest IPCC report reminds us all that our actions over the next decade will determine what the lives of future generations on earth will be like. The report is not specifically written for private companies, but they must be part of the solution. In this blog, ZeroMission's Climate Strategist Julia Senninger explains the reasoning about how companies should act in the short term.
The recently published IPCC 2021 science report had an alarming tone and outlined a dire future. The findings, however, were hardly surprising. In summary, the key messages were:
After a summer with many local heat waves, flooding and fires all across the globe, we should be picking up on the warning signs.
There is no need to simply accept this future. I am eagerly waiting for political action where the uncomfortable, but necessary actions are taken.
In the meantime, here is what the report means for business:
More and more companies are working with science-based targets to define their path towards lower emissions, aiming to be a net-zero company by 2030. While this is a good first step, it still means that emissions are occurring every year and accumulating in the atmosphere. Instead, a company could choose to work towards net-zero by 2030 and take care of the emissions that do occur at the same time.
Looking back at the latest IPCC report, it seems like a big gamble to let the emissions accumulate. And while carbon offsets through well-managed projects are not the silver bullet to the climate crisis, they are a solution readily at hand today.
Critics will argue that it is wrong to claim carbon neutrality through offsets and I agree that terminology is (and always will be) a complicated matter.
The question is not whether a company uses carbon offsets to achieve net-zero for the next thirty years. Rather, it is about maximizing a company’s near-term impact, and what pathway to embark on today. There is a difference between what needs to be accomplished in this century, and what we need to accomplish today. The graph below from a seminar run by the EDF clarifies.
Companies should be using carbon offsets today to maximize their short- and medium- term climate goals. That does not mean they should be using them for the same purposes for the next thirty years. But the more we do now to slow the increase of warming, protect the natural climate solutions that still exists, and create new carbon sinks, we just might avoid trespassing more tipping points.
Remember, we get to build the future we want.