Making Climate Action a Team SportBen Broche, Coordinator, Advisory Services
At the BSR Conference 2013, Participant Media CEO Jim Berk had an important message for us: “Saving the world is a team sport.” This thought has carried with me throughout the year: Effective cross-sector collaboration that transcends business, civil society, and policy landscapes is the only way we can begin to address the complex, global challenge of climate change.
Since I began working on climate issues at BSR, and collaborative initiatives more broadly, I’ve moved from fear and frustration to a sincere hope that bold, collaborative action across the business community can play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change and help reverse our current, disastrous course.
While 97 percent of peer-reviewed scientific literature produced in the past 23 years repeatedly demonstrates that climate change is human-caused and a clear threat to our existence and prosperity, only 40 percent of U.S. citizens believe that it poses such a threat. This gap speaks to a stark failure to drive meaningful consensus on an issue that will affect every community. As my colleague Cammie Erickson recently noted, we must reframe the climate narrative to be both human-oriented and individually relevant to drive consensus and collective action.
For the business community, consensus means developing a shared perspective. This starts with acknowledging the science—that global warming of greater than 2°C is dangerous for society, and yet we are on track for warming in excess of 4°C. It also means developing a collective understanding about the risks for each industry and the roles that industries and companies can play in addressing them. Additionally, it means collaborating across company and industry lines to develop relevant standards and best practices while engaging in meaningful, solutions-oriented dialogue—moving from consensus to action.
In a recent effort to drive business consensus, BSR and Cambridge University published a series of briefs translating the latest IPCC climate findings for 11 industry clusters. To help us move from consensus to action, we are offering industry-specific and cross-industry approaches through our Business in a Climate-Constrained World program, which will be highlighted through a session track at the BSR Conference 2014 next week.
With an issue as broad and consequential as climate change, we must draw encouragement from seemingly small movements that can lead to greater action.
BSR’s Future of Internet Power, an initiative I work with, brings together top technology companies to engage with stakeholders and policymakers to advocate for climate-friendly energy policies and low-carbon power sourcing. The group focuses on improving green energy sourcing in data centers, but the members also play a role in the broader climate dialogue by adding a meaningful business voice in favor of clean energy at the state and national level.
Another inspiring initiative is the Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG), which helps ocean freight carriers measure, report on, and improve their environmental footprint. CCWG has also helped drive significant industrywide action on climate. Members of the group represent 85 percent of the container shipping industry, a sector responsible for shipping around 90 percent of global trade. From 2009 to 2012, CCWG data show an average 16 percent reduction in emissions by members, roughly equivalent to taking 10.8 million cars off the road.
Last year, Jim Berk encouraged us to team up as he spoke about “the Power of Networks,” our Conference theme last year. At this year’s Conference, we are asking companies to take the next step with us through “Transparency and Transformation,” to move from consensus to bold action on climate change and other sustainability challenges, redefining business as usual. We hope you will join us.