Tackling climate change can seem daunting. It doesn’t need to be.
Tackling climate change can seem daunting. It doesn’t need to be, writes David Orr.
David Orr is the Product Lead for Mott MacDonald’s digital embodied carbon reduction solution, Moata Carbon Portal, and the recipient of the UN Global Compact’s 2022 SDG Pioneer for Climate Mitigation award. He shares five tips on how businesses can address climate change and use their collective gravity to accelerate progress.
Climate change is becoming more tangible. Summers are hotter, and floods and forest fires more frequent. There are real sparks of hope in the inspirational entrants and winners of the Earthshot Prize, launched in 2021 by HRH Prince William to fix the climate, protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive oceans, and eliminate waste. But the COP27 climate talks in Egypt in November failed to deliver the level of ambition and commitment required to achieve 1.5°C.
In the UK, as in most other countries, far more needs to be done to tackle climate change. This point was emphasised by the UN Global Compact Network UK, in a report assessing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In Measuring up 2.0, the Network notes the connectivity and interdependence between all 17 SDGs and 169 targets, finding that performance is inadequate against 64% of them.
But where to start? Challenges abound. Climate change is both a local and a global challenge: carbon emitted by companies and citizens drives global warming, which in turn results in local physical impacts. Adaptation and mitigation require large-scale funding from governments now facing recession and imposing austerity budgets.
Businesses have important roles to play in addressing the challenge and their collective gravity can accelerate progress. Here’s how:
- Support intrapreneurship: Some of the best ideas for sustainability can come from within your business – find your innovators and entrepreneurs. Help them to develop the necessary skillset with training such as that provided by the UN Global Compact’s SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals. Mott MacDonald is currently putting forward our third cohort of intrapreneurs to the programme.
- Don’t be boring: Reporting is important for stakeholder information and transparency. But as companies become more mature in their climate reporting, their reports are getting longer and denser. If reports are too laborious to read, the format is wrong. Rethink your climate reporting and communications to make them more accessible and influential.
- Work with new partners: When industry, government, and academia share ideas, research, and innovation they can achieve significant impact. Kenya’s climate emissions reduction tool is an example of effective collaboration, enabling Kenyans to map practical pathways to net zero. It was jointly developed by the Kenyan government, Strathmore University, and a Mott MacDonald-led consortium, with funding from the UK Government, and engaged over 200 private, public, academic, and NGO stakeholders.
- Engage authentically with stakeholders: Climate change affects every community and must be a consideration for every new project. So invite diverse stakeholders and seek their views, listen, and follow up promptly. When you do, you gain valuable insight into local blockers and enablers, identify co-benefits, and win greater support – even advocacy – for your project and measures to tackle climate change.
- There’s no perfect answer, and that’s OK: Sometimes ideas to tackle climate change don’t work. Fortunately, UK businesses are some of the most creative and innovative in the world. Harness this energy and keep innovating. The important thing is that colleagues and consumers feel genuinely connected to tackling climate change.
Climate change is the most ambitious – and ultimately the most rewarding – challenge we will ever tackle. Let’s get going.
David Orr is the Product Lead for Mott MacDonald’s digital embodied carbon reduction solution, Moata Carbon Portal, and the recipient of the UN Global Compact’s 2022 SDG Pioneer for Climate Mitigation award.
Read more about David’s pioneering work: www.unglobalcompact.org/sdgs/sdgpioneers/2022/orr