Addressing the Climate Emergency

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

November 15, 2023

Climate change is a major threat to our world today, affecting both the global economy and people’s lives. To tackle this looming problem, we all need to work together, including governments, businesses and communities.

Climate change is causing more frequent and severe disasters like heatwaves, wildfires, floods and storms. Research indicates that about 3.6 billion people already live in places highly affected by climate change. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change could lead to around 250,000 extra deaths each year due to issues like malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and extreme heat. The cost of direct health damage (excluding other factors like agriculture and water) is estimated to reach US$2 billion to US$4 billion annually by 2030. Areas with limited healthcare systems, often in developing countries, will struggle the most in dealing with these challenges without external help to prepare and respond.

Between 1850 to 2021, humans released a huge amount of CO2—roughly 2,500 gigatons—into the atmosphere. This has caused the earth’s temperature to rise by 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era. The World Meteorological Association predicts a 66% chance that, between 2023 and 2027, the yearly average temperature will go beyond the 1.5-degree Celsius warming limit for at least one year. In fact, we’ve already seen this limit exceeded for shorter periods in 2015, 2016, 2020 and 2023. July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded, with temperatures breaking records for four days in a row.

There are several measures being discussed to address and mitigate climate change. One of them is moving cities and island nations to more secure locations. The potential outcomes of these actions will be at the center of one of the plenary sessions at the upcoming Horasis Asia Meeting, scheduled to take place in Binh Duong, Vietnam between 3-4 December 2023. The gathering will bring together 300 CEOs and entrepreneurs, along with prominent ministers from Southeast Asia and beyond. The primary focus of this meeting will be to delve into key trends that will influence Vietnam’s economy, steering it towards an exciting new chapter of global growth.

Race to Zero

Pressure is mounting to mitigate climate change globally, and businesses, governments and civil societies are responding. Race to Zero is one such global initiative by the UN that is rallying non-state actors—including companies, cities, regions, financial, educational, and healthcare institutions—to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world. Since June 2020, over 11,000 members have joined the campaign and expressed their commitment to the same overarching goal: reducing emissions across all scopes swiftly and fairly in line with the Paris Agreement, with transparent action plans and robust near-term targets. 

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), one of the largest IT service providers globally, is part of this campaign. TCS has set a goal to cut its own greenhouse gas emissions significantly, aiming to reduce them by 70% by 2025 compared to the levels in 2016. Their ultimate target is to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. This means they plan to balance out the emissions they produce with measures that remove or offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the environment.

We also see countries taking several measures in mitigating climate change. In December 2019, EU leaders decided that the member states should become climate-neutral by 2050. A year later, in December 2020, they took another step by agreeing to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than half (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030 as an interim target. In June 2021, the European climate law was adopted, making it a legal requirement for EU countries to meet both the 2030 and 2050 climate goals. The ‘Fit for 55 package’ is a crucial part of the EU’s efforts to achieve these goals, involving changes to energy, transportation, emissions, and land use laws. EU countries have pledged to allocate 30% of their long-term budget for climate projects between 2021 to 2027.

Global Outcomes

Climate mitigation actions can have various effects on local, national, and global businesses and economies. Climate mitigation efforts create new opportunities for businesses that provide renewable energy, energy-efficient products and environmental consulting services. As a result, these sectors may experience growth. Furthermore, mitigation actions also stimulate innovation in green technologies, such as renewable energy, electric vehicles and carbon capture.

Transition challenges for regions heavily reliant on fossil fuels are expected to arise, however. The transition to cleaner energy sources can pose economic challenges. Efforts to mitigate climate change may need to be balanced with strategies to address the social and economic impacts on communities and workers affected by this transition. Collaborative efforts will be needed from governments and businesses worldwide to ease the transition process for countries that meet these difficulties. Only by taking action together will climate mitigation initiatives produce impactful results in time, so that even the most vulnerable communities can be protected in the short and long term.

Photo Caption: A climate protest in Nürnberg, Deutschland