We recently chatted with Mark Griffiths, Global Leader of the Climate Business Hub for WWF. Mark shared his thoughts on what the pandemic has taught the business community about risk and what we, as consumers, can do to advocate for climate action.
Read on for his insights on what we’ve learned from Covid-19, and how we can make progress for the climate.
Many companies adapted quickly to the Covid-19 crisis and changed policies and practices that previously seemed written in stone. How do you think this newfound capability for change will affect business’ responses to the climate crisis?
The key word is resilience. Typically those companies managing to cope best with the pandemic are those who were already assessing and acting on external risks like climate change.
To paraphrase Darwin; the most adaptable and agile will survive, not necessarily the strongest. Companies should spend time now reassessing climate risks and act with urgency to become more resilient to inevitable future shocks.
How can employees or consumers advocate for change within companies?
There are two things consumers can do: Use your wallet and change your behavior. First, be very specific on what you spend your money on. Choose sustainable food, clothes, and home energy providers. Check your pension to ensure you’re investing in green companies.
At the same time, you can also change your personal habits. For example walking or cycling to work helps fitness and alertness and avoids carbon emissions. We should all remember that every action helps.
As tragic as Covid is in terms of loss of lives and livelihoods, this is our chance to reset our lives. We can build lives that are more enjoyable, more connected to nature, and simply more sustainable.
While emissions initially dropped in 2020, we’re nowhere near where we need to be, because the vast majority of carbon emissions are baked into our existing systems. What is the most important step businesses can take to reduce their footprints?
Business, governments, and society all need to significantly step up efforts to meet a 1.5°C target. If we don’t make significant changes, we’re looking at a 3°C rise by the end of the century.
Businesses need to do three things: set carbon reduction targets according to science (SBTi), develop and implement climate action plans (for example invest in energy efficiency and renewables) and support climate smart politics (positively encourage government to create and enforce legislature for a net zero economy).
Let me note that ‘invest’ is different from ‘spend.’ Many sustainability actions will generate a positive return for businesses, financially and otherwise.
How have you been staying busy during lockdown?
I am Zoomed out! Back-to-back video meetings have been difficult to avoid. The only way to counter the effects of this, in my opinion, is to exercise.
You can read more about the Climate Business Hub at WWF here, and follow Mark Griffiths on Twitter at @MarkGrifter.