In the sustainability world we are not light on research and findings. It’s often hard to keep up and harder still to find time to read them all. So, we have summarised some of the most significant reports on the state of climate and sustainability to provide a snapshot of developments in the industry in the first half of 2019.
The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) brings together hundreds of scientists, peer reviewers and collaborating institutions annually to provide information to guide societies to a sustainable world by 2050.
This year’s report is an urgent call for governments to take immediate action to address climate change and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It states that:
In April the Global Forest Watch announced that the world lost a Belgium-sized area of primary forest in 2018 alongside the following observations from their latest data :
This report compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a body of 400 experts from 50 countries, paints a damning picture of our natural resources. It states that nature’s dangerous decline is unprecedented and “the world is on notice”.
It examines five main drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species and concludes that:
Just as Extinction Rebellion and other climate groups were shutting down the city of London and bringing the climate and ecological crises very dramatically to the fore front of public debate, the UK Government’s Climate Change Committee report landed in May.
Commissioned by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments in response to the Paris Agreement and IPCC report, the findings concluded that the UK could end its contribution to global warming in 30 years. It advises the UK Government that:
It appeals to the UK’s position of leadership as a world leader that once led the rest of the globe into the industrial revolution and must now step up for the low carbon one. The report was welcomed by most in the sustainability world, but not without caution from some groups: those questioning the feasibility or cost of reaching the target; and climate groups stating that the target is simply not ambitious enough to put the brakes on the climate and ecological disaster.
(Since the release of the report, the UK Government has now committed to a target of net zero by 2050, one of the first major nations to do so).
One of the most significant recent developments in corporate climate reporting has been the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), published in 2017. The objective of the TCFD is to guide companies to better account for the risks and opportunities of climate change and adequately disclose them to investors and other stakeholders. Two years on, the TCFD has published its latest progress report, which shows:
The TCFD continues to stress that this is a journey of continual improvement and to applaud any companies willing to begin. It voices its concern that not enough companies are taking up the journey yet and is emphatic that ‘now is the time’.
In 2018, the CDP Questionnaires were overhauled to incorporate the recommendations of the TCFD. How did companies cope with the first year of TCFD-aligned disclosures and what does it tell us? CDP have now published their analysis. The report entitled ‘Major Risk or Rosy Opportunity: Are companies ready for climate change?’ finds that:
In their new annual review, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announced that there are now 11 million people world wide employed in renewable energy. This is up from 10.3 million in 2017. This rise is despite slower growth in large renewable energy markets like China. It also finds that:
The state of the planet and our climate makes for gloomy reading, but the recurrent theme across many of the reports in the industry this year is that action is not just imperative and urgent. It is not even just doable. It is also beneficial for our economies, our communities, and the health of humanity and the natural world. Although slow, progress is happening, and momentum is starting to pick up pace.
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