2020 Starts the Decade for Effective Climate Leadership
By: Phil Cull, CEO, Offsetters
Heading into 2020, the world faces a pressing reality—we have 10 years to keep global warming below 1.5ᵒC and cut global emissions by 45% of 2010 levels. Meaningful change has had a slow uptake; however, the last few years have been a turning point for mass public awareness and advocacy on environmental issues. By the end of last decade, millions of people across the world had taken to the streets to protest climate change inaction. The messages echoing from the streets were clear: We are not doing enough. Listen to the science. Protect nature and people. Act on climate.
The best time to act was yesterday. The second–best time is now.
The next decade is our last opportunity to take responsibility for what climate scientists have been saying for years. It is clear that we need to transform the way the global economy impacts the climate, environment, and people. It is clear that sustainability as it has been approached in the past isn’t enough anymore. And, after the disappointing results of COP25 in Madrid, it is also clear that business leaders have the responsibility to lead in areas where international cooperation remains at a standstill.
The good news is that businesses are starting to get the message. In our work within the carbon management space, we have witnessed an important corporate culture shift towards embracing climate action. Private sector interest in carbon management is growing rapidly. In 2019, between September and December alone, corporate buy-in to Science Based Targets doubled in size. Hundreds of organizations have come to us curious about measuring, reducing, and offsetting their impacts. However, climate leadership still needs to go beyond just measuring and offsetting emissions.
We need the leaders of the future to step up today.
Although there are now 187 countries signed onto reduction targets through the Paris Agreement and more than 9,000 companies and governments worldwide reporting environmental information to the Carbon Disclosure Project, we are still failing to meet global targets. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, global emissions have still increased by 4%. The UN has now reported that we need to reduce emissions by at least 7.6% every year by 2030—that’s if we started today. By 2025, the reductions necessary for a 1.5 degree world could be as high as 15.5% each year.
There is a lot of work to do.
Effective action requires real climate leadership.
A future where real climate leadership takes center stage will require a sense of urgency, innovation, a lot of grit, and a true commitment to change. Venturing away from the comfort of doing ‘what you think you can’ towards doing ‘what you know you must’ is both difficult and necessary for effective climate action.
Climate leaders of the new decade will need to embrace new values. Our 2020 climate leaders will be committed to transparency and continuous improvement—mapping their supply chains and taking responsibility for all their impacts. They will be engaged in climate policy and lobbying for more effective systems that create real solutions. Climate justice and equity will be front of mind—prioritizing relationships with Indigenous communities, the land, and all other stakeholders. Leaders will have redesigned business models that prioritize Science Based Targets, natural capital, equity and diversity, circular economies, internal carbon prices, and enforceable policies to support them. The thought leaders of the 2020s will transform entire industries.
We’re ready for change. We just have to create it.
Some companies are already leading the way. In December 2019, Harbour Air made headlines for its historic launch of the world’s first all-electric commercial airplane. Harbour Air has always been committed to climate action. The Vancouver-based airline has been Carbon Neutral through Offsetters for 12 years. They have also been consistently dedicated to improving fuel efficiency, lowering their impact, and investing in real emissions reductions. Now, they will soon be a world leader in low carbon aviation.
The low–carbon transition no longer means talking about how our industries will change 20 years from now. It means embracing climate planning, innovation, and technological investments today. As an environmental services company, Offsetters defines success by empowering those we work with to make an impact on climate. To do our part to foster a better future, we plan to spend the 2020s and beyond putting climate leadership at the forefront of everything we do and we invite you to do the same. This decade, it’s our only option.
Phil Cull is the CEO at Offsetters. He is responsible for the delivery of emissions reductions from Offsetters’ portfolios and is a key member of the project development team, particularly in the high level design and quality control role. He also is responsible for the development of carbon finance deal structures, revenue sharing arrangements and manages offtake negotiations for Offsetters and its clients. Phil has been involved in project development, quality control and financing for projects both in the clean technology and land use arenas. He is a key technical review resource and leads Offsetters’ project due diligence. Phil is heavily involved in the Canadian clean tech community and regularly speaks on carbon finance at conferences on behalf of Offsetters.