The Business Case for Climate Action
Toward an Equitable, Engaged and Clean Energy Future
Summary Report #3 on The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2021 Sixth Assessment Report:
Working Group III – Mitigation of Climate Change
- The most effective way we can get out of the climate crisis is to stop burning fossil fuels including coal, oil, and gas.
- Now is an especially opportune time to invest in a clean energy future, considering the availability and affordability of renewable energy and low-emission technologies.
- There are changes we can make in our day-to-day lives that will collectively reduce emissions.
- Climate governance is a critical basis for policy development and implementation that is most effective when it integrates collaboration with diverse domains.
- Not all mitigation efforts are considered equal and can have adverse effects on land and aquatic ecosystems if not coordinated in a cross-sectoral fashion.
- Without a strengthening of policies beyond those that are implemented by the end of 2020, GHG emissions are projected to rise beyond 2025, to a median global warming of 3.2 degrees by 2100.
Table of Contents
- Background on the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
- A roadmap out of the climate crisis
- Managing rising temperatures
- Industry and urban solutions
- Engaging employees on climate change
- Investing in social impact
1. Background on the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
On April 4th, 2022, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change (AR6 III).
The AR6 III is the third report in a series by the IPCC. On February 27th, 2022, the IPCC released the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (AR6 II). You can view the PPG Summary Report: Proactive vs. Reactive: Building Climate Action and Community Resilience. This report was following Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (AR6 I) released August 9, 2021. You can view the PPG Summary Report: Why Climate Change is Bad for Business.
The AR6 III represents the contributions of Working Group III to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. The AR6 III provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and commitments, including the sources of GHG emissions, and how effectively national strategies have been at reducing and mitigating emissions. Unlike previous IPCC reports, the AR6 III offers a window into how our individual lifestyles collectively contribute to emission levels. Aspects of this analysis that pertain to how we do business are extracted for this summary. The AR6 III argues that considering the availability and affordability of renewable energy and low-emission technologies, now is not only a critical time, but an especially opportune time to invest in a clean energy future. Pairing these investments with sustainable systemic changes involving our day-to-day lives, substantiated by more ambitious policies, we can mitigate future climate change.
2. A roadmap out of the climate crisis
Many people are looking to the AR6 III as a roadmap on how to get out of the climate crisis. Simply put, the answer is to stop burning fossil fuels: coal, oil, and gas. As the AR6 III states with high confidence: “The continued installation of unabated fossil fuel infrastructure will ‘lock-in’ GHG emissions.”
PPG urges businesses to critically examine how their business practices, investments, and partnerships support the fossil fuel industry, and where they can begin to make changes. Undoubtedly, our economy is in many ways deeply entrenched with fossil fuel dependency, ranging from how we heat our homes to how we get to work. The AR6 III offers hope that the shift to a clean energy future can occur in a way that leaves no one behind and doesn’t sacrifice economic prosperity, but rather safeguards communities and the economy against future climate risks that will inevitably be more costly and irreparable if left unaddressed.
The AR6 III explains that reducing emissions (mitigation) and increasing resilience (adaptation) can occur through technology and infrastructure choices, as well as changing behaviour and policy. This summary report argues that business of all sizes and sectors, can choose to invest in low-emission and renewable energy technology and climate resilient infrastructure, motivate staff and consumers to make climate-friendly choices, and leverage their platforms and partnerships to influence policy – all without sacrificing their bottom line.
3. Managing rising temperatures
The AR6 III begins with an overview of how we’re managing global warming. Since 2014, new laws and policies have helped to reduce emissions and ensure the worst-case scenario of temperatures warming by 4 or 5 degrees is avoided. Since 2010, innovation policy packages have enabled cost reductions of several low-emission technologies and their uptake across sectors.
However, this progress is not enough. Evidence shows that emissions are still increasing for every greenhouse gas. Emissions rose between 2010 and 2019 at a rate higher than any other recorded decade, especially in urban areas which represent approximately 70% of the global share of emissions. This presents a strong argument that national targets and policies toward climate action need to be more ambitious and put a halt on any new fossil fuel infrastructure. Instead, we need to replace fossil fuels with renewables wherever we can.
Currently, we may not be on track to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees as outlined in the Paris Agreement, but we can reach this target if we rapidly accelerate deployment of mitigative measures in the next decade. The AR6 III indicates that financing for climate mitigation in the next decade must be at least 2-5 times larger than it has been since 2010, and more evenly and equitably distributed across the globe. The transfer of funds to developing countries committed to under the Paris Agreement has not yet materialized with a substantial share of the population in low-emitting countries lacking access to modern energy services.
Regional contributions to global GHG emissions greatly differ. According to historical cumulative emissions and per capita emissions, North America has the highest carbon footprint from fossil fuels and industry, and the highest consumption and production-based emissions per person. Just like the world’s wealth is concentrated in a small percentage of earners; overall global household emissions are disproportionately represented by a small number of households in developed nations. The world’s least developed countries have contributed 0.4% to global emissions. The richest 10% of households contribute to 34-45% of emissions and the poorest 50% of households only contribute 13-15%.
The AR6 III examines the efficacy and affordability of a variety of decarbonization solutions in cutting emissions by 2030. According to graphic data in the AR6 III, wind and solar have excellent decarbonization potential and are some of the most cost-effective options, substantially increasing in affordability since 2010. Despite growth in uptake of these energy sources, they still make up a small percentage of our energy mix. Other options like carbon capture and storage remain more popular despite being more costly and less effective in cutting carbon.
There are some emissions that we cannot eliminate. Net zero emissions requires cutting existing emissions that we can, and then removing any remaining emissions that we cannot stop producing. This is referred to as carbon dioxide removal (CDR). The AR6 III indicates that we should not be relying predominantly on land use CDR strategies such as reforestation and enhancing grasslands – while regenerating and preserving these ecosystem services that aid in carbon sequestration is important, largescale carbon capture or direct air capture measures if we are to effectively reach net zero emissions. The AR6 III notes that CDR is a field ripe with innovation potential, as the repertoire of effective, affordable and largescale CDR solutions is in its nascent stages. However, the AR6 III firmly asserts that CDR is no substitute for emission reductions: we must not opt for a trade-off approach in climate change mitigation.
4. Industry and urban solutions
In the discussion on industrial sector emissions, the AR6 III advocates for applying circular economy principles to industrial practice and policy that emphasize materials efficiency, reuse, and demand management.
Previous AR6 reports have demonstrated that focusing on wellbeing by addressing inequality and many forms of status-based consumption supports climate change mitigation. The reality thar individuals with high socio-economic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have the highest potential for emissions reductions, e.g., as citizens, investors, consumers, role models, and professionals, is a strong argument for demand-size mitigation. Businesses have a unique opportunity to support demand-side mitigation by offering products and services that promote climate-friendly consumer behaviour that is synergistic with human equity and well-being.
Industry has the power to shift demand toward sustainable consumption. For example, manufacturing longer-living repairable products and establishing networks that recycle, repurpose, remanufacture, and reuse staple infrastructure materials like metal, plastic, and glass. The AR6 III also encourages industry to practice green procurement in accessing material- efficient products and services and energy-efficient materials. PPG’s Circular Economy Leaders Consortium is a best practice network of industry professionals aimed at increasing uptake of these practices in facility waste management. To learn more, visit the Circular Economy Leaders Consortium webpage or contact: Chaya.Chengappa@trca.ca.
In addition to the CEC, PPG’s Material Exchange program supports businesses in diverting material from landfill to organizations in the PPG stakeholder network. To learn more visit the Material Exchange program webpage or contact: Anna.Currier@trca.ca.
In discussing urban-based climate mitigation, the AR6 III mentions three broad strategies that are effective when implemented simultaneously. These include: i) shifting toward sustainable production and consumption through changing how we use energy and materials ii) electrification in combination with switching to low-emission energy sources and ii) enhancing carbon uptake and storage in the urban environment. Some key examples of carbon uptake and storage include opting for bio-based building materials, permeable surfaces, green roofs, trees, green spaces, rivers, ponds and lakes. Many of these examples can be achieved with low-impact-development or natural infrastructure solutions and are eligible interventions with many municipal stormwater credit programs. To learn more about PPG’s Natural Infrastructure and Climate Resiliency programs and municipal incentives for stormwater management, visit the webpage here or contact: Chaya.Chengappa@trca.ca.
One of the ways the AR6 III suggests that municipalities can facilitate industrial sector circulatory is through adapting building codes, mandating or rewarding for the use of sustainable materials in new construction and sustainable development design principles. PPG maintains strong partnerships with its municipal partners and is a reliable source for up-to-date information on municipal programs and incentives that support climate-friendly business practices.
5. Engaging employees on climate change
The AR6 III asks us to examine the ways in which human behaviour choices and consumption habits contribute to climate change. This includes how we use energy to power our homes, how sustainable our buildings are and the materials we use to build them, how we plan our cities and towns, and our travel and eating habits.
PPG’s People Power Challenge (PPC) is a program that provides businesses with the tools to mobilize employees toward climate action in the workplace and in their day-to-day lives. PPC is offered in Live Edition and On Demand formats. PPC is utilized as a meaningful team building platform that will be especially beneficial for organizations transitioning to back-to-office working. PPC offers opportunities for workplace engagement and interaction with a focus on deepening connections with each other and the environment. This structure helps nurture an ethic of community care that has the power to influence broader business decisions related to equity and environmental action. Furthermore, PPC is designed to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which the IPCC promotes as a framework synonymous with positive climate action. It is also a framework that increasing numbers of businesses are using in CSR reporting.
The Live Edition of PPC is an annual 12-week friendly competition. PPG facilitates the campaigns and participating companies volunteer a “Champion” to keep employees motivated to take action. PPC Live Edition offers inspiring educational opportunities, action-oriented events and sustainability activities for home and the workplace.
PPC “On-Demand”, is a plug and play program that businesses can run whenever it suits them. This way, you can drive environmental action at home and at work, any time of the year. Each campaign includes:
- A checklist to keep organized
- An educational webinar on the campaign topic
- A resource package to host an interactive event
- A scorecard of activities that drive action at home and at work
- A resource guide with links to articles, videos, websites and more to educate employees
- A suite of communications materials to generate awareness of the program
While the importance of individual actions in contributing to climate change should not be understated, they ultimately represent a small fraction of overall emissions. To address this, a complete restructuring away from fossil fuels is necessary. PPG’s Energy Performance programming can help you take the first step in transitioning away from fossil fuel dependence. To learn more visit the Energy Leaders Consortium webpage or contact: Matt.Brunette@trca.ca.
According to the AR6 III, we need to cut emissions by 2-3% per year, in every sector until 2050 if we are going to effectively reach net zero emissions by the third quarter of the century. This will require mass electrification from low carbon sources like wind, solar and battery. The AR6 III stresses the key role that policy can play in reaching these goals and that policies for heavily emitting sectors need to be more stringent. Ultimately, we need a complete restructuring of economies and how we build and power the infrastructure to sustain our daily lives in a way that places justice and equity at the centre. While this is a far-reaching goal, the summary report outlines some immediate ways that businesses can tangibly begin to make a difference without compromising on their bottom line.