Climate Action Opportunities: An Industry Lens
As the great and the good met in Paris to reach an historic international climate change agreement, we saw a flurry of announcements from businesses. These included collective calls to action, individual and collective commitments, and a multitude of new multi-stakeholder collaborations to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and a more sustainable world. Businesses were not waiting in the side-lines for a political agreement before stepping up to make commitments. Undoubtedly though, the Paris Agreement will trigger a step change in the pace of action.
The Paris Agreement formally welcomes the efforts of the private sector to address and respond to climate change. It also commits to ‘uphold and promote regional and international cooperation in order to mobilise stronger and more ambitious climate action by…the private sector’ (and other stakeholders). The Agreement is important for the private sector for many reasons. It has already given many board members, C-Suite executives and managers a heightened appreciation that climate change is truly a global priority. There is a greater sense of solidarity and realisation that we all need to rethink ‘business as usual’. Vitally, the Agreement will lead to public policy and regulatory frameworks which better incentivise environmentally sustainable economies.
Industry specific opportunities
Climate action is first and foremost a responsibility, but businesses can also find opportunity by getting ahead of the curve to create more sustainable and resilient products, services and operating models. Drawing on insights from the SDG Industry Matrix, KPMG International and the United Nations Global Compact have produced a short publication which provides succinct descriptions of industry specific opportunities for climate action across six industries:
Although achieving all 17 SDGs is inextricably linked with climate action, the publication focuses on SDGs 7, 12 and 13 which are most relevant to the Paris Agreement:
The publication also provides hyperlinked lists of 44 industry specific global multi-stakeholder collaborations (-amongst many others). These are evidence that businesses are showing considerable maturity in setting aside their competitive differences in order to cooperate to the mutual benefit of the industry and the planet. These collaborations provide an obvious entry point for businesses looking to start or extend their focus on this agenda.
Building on a universal foundation
Certain actions are incumbent on all companies - regardless of their industry – including reducing carbon emissions, increasing resilience to climate change including extreme climatic events, and reporting transparently against clear ambitious targets. The industry specific opportunities build on the United Nations Global Compact’s three environmental principles for business:
7) Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
8) Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
9) Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Following Paris, we can be sure that civil society will be vocal in holding the private sector to account – not only for meeting these environmental principles, but also for delivering on recent environmental commitments and for keeping up with leading industry practices.
For more information on the broader SDG Industry Matrix publication series, please read my blog and access the UN Global Compact website for details of open industry consultations. I hope you find these publications informative. Please feel free to contact me with ideas and suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org / www.kpmg.com/globalgoals).