Time to get into the climate action: three easy best practices to help organisations get started

Humans are changing Earth on an unprecedented scale, the effects of climate change are becoming ever clearer. Melting glaciers, warming oceans, and carbon emissions are no longer surreal. If we don’t act today, a climate catastrophe is imminent, experts warn.

We all have a vague sense of what sustainability refers to. There is the social responsibility component, where we feel that companies should not harm our environment, should be responsive to both employees and shareholders, and should help civic life to flourish.

But solid sustainability is so much more: It requires companies to be daring and determined, intelligent, and innovative.

While many companies in the Asia-Pacific region have pledged their environmental activism over the past few years, the proportion committed to net-zero targets stands at a mere 8%, according to a recent report by South Pole and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an international non-profit organisation that runs the world's environmental disclosure system for companies. 

The report also reveals that companies ought to step up sustainability efforts in: climate risk assessment; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint measurement across direct and value chains; science-based targets establishment; and decisive decarbonisation action.

Brayden Lai of South Pole, a global climate solutions provider that develops and implements comprehensive emission reduction projects and strategies, shared at the FCM Th!nk Singapore event, ways that organisations can integrate sustainability into their core framework.

“While we are seeing net zero announcements grabbing the headlines globally, APAC companies need to step up in this area, especially as our region is already feeling some of the worst impacts of climate change.

In our work, one of the main trends we are seeing is, increasingly, stakeholders are demanding climate action from companies. For example, based on a consumer study by IBM in 2020, six in ten of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, and would pay a premium for brands that are environmentally responsible.

Especially in the travel industry, we are seeing an increasing interest in digital solutions to engage with their consumers, where they can provide carbon emission insights that allow for sustainable choices. Companies are hence able to build sustainability into their customer experience and engage them in this area.

Such compensation programmes are especially powerful when combined with broader climate strategy so that customers can see that a company is taking meaningful action.

To implement robust climate action from within, organisations can start with three best practices:  

  1. Have a strong top-down strategy to instill a strong sustainable culture into all business activities and engage all levels of stakeholders from employees to customers.
  2. Understand the impact your company makes on the environment by measuring your GHG footprint and identifying the areas that demand action. This positions you on the path towards a successful environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda to engage with all stakeholders.
  3. Establish open and transparent communication with all stakeholders in the organisation’s climate journey. For instance, sharing success and learnings is an essential part of driving ESG. The resulting feedback fosters trust, in turn driving the creation of a positive ESG corporate environment.

To any company calling sustainability a fad: Science-based evidence has shown that the severe effects of climate change, such as extreme weather patterns, have impacted many countries globally. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge to humanity in the 21st century. It requires a concerted global effort from governments, corporations, and consumers to mitigate these climate risks and create a more sustainable planet for future generations.

Brayden Lai, South Pole

“I’d like to quote from the 2022 Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change report that ‘the world is set to reach the 1.5 °C above pre-industrial level within the next two decades, and that only the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions would help to avoid an environmental disaster’.

This statement not only highlights the urgency for climate action now, but also presents an opportunity for organisations to chart business growth on a sustainable path for generations to come.”