Last month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco to build on the tremendous achievement of the 2015 Paris Agreement during COP22. There, they recommitted to a collaborative target-driven effort to limit climate change. During the conference, 11 countries—including Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Pakistan—ratified the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number up to 111, far more than the 55 countries covering 55 percent of global GHG emissions required to elevate the accord to international law. The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Germany released strategies for radically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury. The U.S. report outlines plans to meet an 80 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2050, referencing an ambitious transition to a low-carbon energy system and innovative carbon storage and removal tactics.
Today’s corporate citizenship reports are more engaging and relevant, and are communicating the positive environmental, social, governance, and business value that companies are creating. A corporate citizenship report was once a nice to have; now approximately 93 percent of the Global 250 issue them.
Climate change is again trending as a topic within corporate citizenship and the larger business community. The release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si” (Be Praised), which highlights the impact developed economies are having on our planet and our responsibilities to act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, and the upcoming COP21—the 21st Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—are creating a buzz.
In January, policy makers, government agencies, and companies took advantage of the New Year spirit by recommitting to goals, setting targets, and measuring results in the environmental arena. Earlier this month, the Obama administration built on 2014’s advances in climate change policy—an effort the President reaffirmed during his 2015 State of the Union address— with a plan to limit methane emissions and the announcement of a federal “model rule” for states that don’t file carbon-cutting plans. In Canada, Ontario got closer to revealing its plan for carbon-pricing, and plans to unveil its strategy later this year.
- More than 120 world leaders attended the United Nations Climate Summit this past September in New York, and more than 400,000 protesters took to the streets during that same event.
- The European Union pledged to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its 28 member states by 20 percent in 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
Have you set your environmental footprint goals for 2015 and beyond? Setting emissions targets can be a daunting task, but it is also a very tangible way to demonstrate a strong commitment to corporate citizenship.
More than 4,500 companies begin the process of measuring, managing, and mitigating their contributions to climate change by completing the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire, which is a key standard for environmental emissions reporting.
The natural resources we so often take for granted are in fact critically important to the very existence of our ecosystems and our economy.
Take, for example, a family-owned barge company which has ferried goods up and down the Mississippi River for the last 60 years. Water and weather weigh heavily on whether the company opens its doors every day, so the increased frequency of major water events like flooding or droughts must become part of their risk mitigation strategy.