• The Reimagine Team

Why Combatting Climate Change Will Matter Even More In The Next Normal

Updated: Jan 27

A critical factor in building a sustainable future in the next normal is understanding the impact that Covid-19 has had on the planet while keeping up the pressure against climate change.

In the early days of the pandemic, there was a sense that although lockdowns might be a backward step for mankind but could be good news for the environment. Satellite images showed dramatic drops in air pollution globally, and there were even reports of dolphins returning to Venice's canals. Many experts agreed that attempts to mitigate the pandemic's economic fallout could offer opportunities to speed the shift towards renewable energy.

Nearly two years on, and the shine has well and truly come off this silver lining. The fact is that the worldwide lockdowns have obstructed global and local efforts to address the long-term damage of climate change. While home working, less rubber on our roads, and fewer aircraft in the skies have meant cleaner air, our waste management chains are buckling under pressure. The critical need for personal safety and cleanliness has compromised reusables and placed overwhelming strain on local communities worldwide as they struggle to dispose of waste on time and safely.

Partnership: The Key To The Reset We Need

As we focus on restoring that early optimism, it is encouraging to note that Covid-19 offers us a unique chance to reset by doing things differently in ways that we never thought were possible or did not want to do before. The exciting part of creating a sustainable next normal is that the possibilities are unknown and we can discover them together. We need to focus on understanding and unlocking these unknowns as corporates come together with concrete measures to work beyond their silos alongside competitors and partners, galvanizing their businesses – and entire sectors – in united action against climate change.

The good news is that, together, we have access to an impressive set of platforms as we commit to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), using 100% renewable electricity, and transitioning to net zero. Here, we showcase three leading initiatives that are here to help us do just that.

Leading With Science-Based Targets

A growing number of businesses are turning to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between CDP, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Its purpose is to enable leading companies to set ambitious and meaningful corporate GHG reduction targets by independently assessing and approving targets and providing resources and guidance to remove any barriers to adoption.

At the time of writing, over 2,000 companies were working with the initiative; of these, 1,046 had set approved science-based targets. They operate in a broad spectrum of sectors – from Air Freight, Transportation & Logistics to Water Utilities, Building Products and Food & Beverage Processing. Together, they are implementing a diversity of carbon-cutting measures that range from improving the efficiency of their manufacturing processes, ramping up the use of renewable energies, greening their buildings and supply chains, and reducing business travel.

Committing To 100% Renewable Electricity

The RE100 initiative brings together hundreds of large and ambitious businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. Led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, RE100’s mission is to accelerate global clean energy and zero-carbon grids. The aim: to deliver a cleaner, healthier future for humanity.

Since RE100 launched in 2014, its global membership has expanded across Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. Once companies meet the joining criteria, which include a significant power footprint, they need to set their target and path towards achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2050. At the time of writing, 340 RE100 companies had committed to going '100% renewable.'

Transforming To Net Zero

In July 2020, the heads of nine companies announced a new initiative to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy by 2050. Known as Transform to Net Zero, this initiative intends to develop and deliver research, guidance, and implementable roadmaps to enable all businesses to achieve net zero emissions. Work on these outputs is scheduled for completion by 2025 and will be available to all. Founding members include A.P. Moller – Maersk, Danone, Mercedes-Benz AG, Microsoft Corp., Natura &Co, NIKE Inc., Starbucks, Unilever, and Wipro, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The Initiative is supported by BSR, which is serving as its Secretariat.

HAVI’s Commitment To Partnership Continues

HAVI continues to innovate and partner with customers, suppliers, and industry peers on sustainability issues and has a proud history of making climate action a cornerstone of its strategy. Its efforts over the last decade have seen teams at HAVI leading various internal programs to reduce CO2, improve energy efficiency, and expand the use of renewables.

In 2019, HAVI became one of the first ten companies in the Airfreight, Transportation & Logistics sector to make a public commitment towards meeting approved science-based targets. This commitment involves reducing carbon emissions from its operations by 40% per metric ton of goods delivered by 2030 to keep the rise in global temperatures well below 2°C, as per the Paris Agreement. Subsequently, the SBTi lowered this figure to 1.5°C.

Beyond its CO2 reduction targets, HAVI is active in a number of strategic partnerships across the sector and is often at the forefront of new thinking and ways of working. One example involves tackling waste streams such as plastics, cups, and used cooking oil (UCO). HAVI’s latest demonstration of its commitment in this area is its participation in a circular economy that involves turning UCO into hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) to fuel HAVI’s vehicle fleet in the Netherlands. Read more about its partnership with Neste and McDonald’s here.

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