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It’s time for business to step up climate action

By , People Daily Digital
Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 02:10 | 3 mins read
A woman protesting climate change. PD/COURTESY

By Judy Njino

From changing weather patterns that imperil food production to rising sea levels that raise the risk of devastating flooding, the effects of climate change are global in scope and unparalleled in scale.

Yet, the impacts are strongly felt at the regional and local level. 

We are already witnessing the negative impacts of a changing climate in our lifetime with the net damage costs likely to be significant and increase over time. 

In Africa, where almost 40 million more people were pushed to extreme poverty and the region experienced its first recession in 25 years due to the Covid-19, an uncertain future looms as climate change becomes the next big threat.  

According to a 2018 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report, climate change-related consequences such as drought and floods cost the country 2 – 2.4 per cent of its Gross Domestic product (GDP) each year.

Drought costs Kenya eight per cent of GDP every five years, per the report. 

As world leaders gather at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, commonly known as COP26 to chart the way forward, the needs of the continent to adapt and remain resilient must take center stage. 

At the COP26, Kenya and the continent should address the conversation on climate change as a two-front battle: environment and economic.

How can the country and continent be supported to deliver on its development ambitions on a sustainable pathway without pushing further the limits of the planet to sustain us?  

It is important to recognise that effectively addressing climate change and coping with its consequences would need tremendous effort by all stakeholders. 

The urgency of this crisis is more understood by young people. Whereas adults negotiate, the youth are demanding for immediate action.

What is currently needed is an inter-generational dialogue which allows for exchange of solutions and innovation that are unifying in nature. 

In the universal battle against climate change, capital markets are a tremendously crucial tool.

Government intervention is unquestionably necessary. However, lowering global emissions ultimately rests on the private sector realising the business potential presented by sustainability. 

For governments and business, partnerships will be essential to build a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. 

Business sends a strong signal when they set targets on climate and renewable energy, increase commercial demand, and grow investment in climate change solutions.

This in turn, pushes the government to develop policies that will support companies and investors by adding clarity and increasing their confidence hence accelerating climate investments.  

This is the ambition loop, that ultimately drives progress towards the achievement of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.  

The United Nations Global Compact is strongly urging companies worldwide to act by raising their ambition.

Only then will we achieve a positive tipping point where 1.5°C-aligned corporate strategies become the new normal for businesses and their supply chains. 

Companies have a unique chance to be at the forefront of the climate movement, reinventing how they can collaborate with governments and the United Nations to shift sectors and change the way we conduct business. 

Companies have a unique chance to be at the forefront of the climate movement, reinventing how they can collaborate with governments and the United Nations to shift sectors and change the way we conduct business. 

Investing in climate technology holds a huge promise for businesses in Africa, from building high-quality carbon offset markets to addressing the gaps in access to green energy. 

Our only chance for survival is for all of us to step up our climate actions and goals, and corporate leaders have the potential to do so.

We must demonstrate to the next generation that we are serious about steering the world toward a better, more sustainable future. 

—The writer is the Executive Director of Global Compact Network Kenya —[email protected]

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