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Definitive Corporate Action: A Key to Driving Climate Resilience

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By Akanksha Sharma, Global Head, Social Impact & Sustainability, STL

The global sentiment on climate change turned a corner with the Paris Agreement of 2015. This international covenant marked the awakening of collective consciousness oninadequate socio-economic practices, leading to erratic weather and irreversible shifts in ecosystem. However, the recent UN Emission Gap Report and UN Climate Change Annual Report, reminded us that persisting challenges to acting on climate change is a page that will not turn unless the issue of irresponsible consumption is addressed.

So the key question is how to best generate traction on a cause that can define the future of this planet? The solution lies in the UN Sustainability Agenda that recommends a multi-sectoral partnership for change. Alongside governments corporates bestowed with enormous resource mobilization potential and community influence can spearhead the giant stride necessary for driving substantial and affirmative climate action.

Businesses need to respond Strategically, Operationally and…Passionately
The urgency for a proactive stance on climate action is highlighted by a recent study that reported 200 of the world’s largest corporations anticipating fiscal risks of around $1 trillion owing to extreme weather events. With the clock ticking, it is no longer enough to innovate sustainable solutions and policy measures. They need to be tested, rationalized and deployed consistently across value chains, weeding out inadequacies. One such priority target is Sustainable Manufacturing, which involves using radical concepts like controlled emission profiles, life cycle assessment, Zero Waste to Landfills, water positivity, carbon offsets and an augmented investment in renewables, to balance the community, environment and shareholder imperatives impeccably.

However, while such operational shifts are absolutely necessary, the global community expects much more from corporate leaders at a time when environmental degradation is escalating exponentially. In the long term, corporates will need to reimagine their business models and social engagement fundamentals to ensure that sustainability is at the core of business strategy and action .For this, it is essential to embed the perception of contemporary climate dynamics and their consequences into the institutional strategic construct. They need to be iterated and re-iterated within the entire management spectrum, ensuring operational maturity and reporting transparency.

Collective efforts to build a sustainable future

Such endeavours, however challenging, are not without their perks. With environmental performance increasingly being factored into enterprise valuations, prospects from low-carbon business transitions far outweigh therisks, bringing practitioners under the positive focus of institutional investors. Climate Action 100+ is one such initiative that seeks to channelize over $52 trillion in AUM (Assets Under Management) into impact investment to sustain and accelerate climate-compliant business practices through symbiotic associations.

For corporates, the scope of positive climate enforcement transcends beyond their organizational boundaries. They can serve as role-models and drive knowledge sharing, low-carbon technology and best practices across the ecosystem, optimizing partner entities’ ecological footprints and building resilient, transparent supply chains with high auditability and environmental relevance. Further, corporates can align their community action programs with National Climate Missions. They can drive tangible results for a series of priorities including agrarian sustenance, water conservation, afforestation and pollution control among others, mitigating the impact of industrialization and the resultant spike in global warming.

Undeniably, climate change is effecting the planet faster than we can respond. If we are to check the meltdown and attain the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050, a committed, multi-sectoral alliance, with the corporates leading,has to be instituted. However, this is feasible only if the idea of ‘profitability’ is reinvented and ‘business-as-usual’ is discarded, embracing a collaborative approach that can empower all the stakeholders equally to stand the test of an unpredictable future.

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