This is how you can spearhead environmental changes in your company
Are organisations being held accountable for their carbon emissions?
Climate-related disasters have tripled in the last 30 years, forcing 20 million people worldwide from their homes every year. By 2030, the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that it will cost developing countries $140-300 billion annually to adapt to climate change and cope with the damages of climate-related disasters.
The climate crisis is an ever-present threat to our world and is a direct consequence of consistently rising carbon emissions. From rising sea levels to extreme temperature changes, we are all experiencing the effects of climate change. The undeniable fact that must unite us is that our world is burning, and we must do everything possible to put the flames out.
Is there any hope of reversing the effects of climate change? And what is our role in holding companies accountable for their carbon emissions?
The truth about carbon emissions
80% of the world’s energy comes from carbon. It heats our homes, enables travel, and is used to build our towns and cities. If we don’t drastically lower our carbon emissions by 2030, the world will warm by more than 1.5°C causing catastrophic damage to life on earth everywhere.
While we are all making a conscious effort to lower our personal carbon emissions by making small changes, such as not using single-use plastic, in the past two decades, 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to just 100 companies.
The shocking statistics are a reminder of the substantial role businesses have to play, and the need for action from young leaders like you.
The corporates who are making change
Some corporations have heeded the warnings from experts and begun making essential changes to reduce their carbon emissions:
Take car manufacturer Audi, for example. In 2018, they sent their Corporate Social Responsibility Expert, Juliane Seipt, to the One Young World Summit. At the Summit, Juliane wanted to exchange ideas and get inspiration in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in corporate strategies from other young leaders. Fast forward five years, and Audi has committed to making all their production sites carbon-neutral by 2025.
There is nothing more beautiful than saving the world, and global fashion and beauty company Chanel knows it. Our Ambassador, Leila Olsen, was part of the Sustainability Ambassador Programme at Chanel, where executives empowered her to research and lead projects that put sustainability at the company's forefront. Within days of the programme being established, all plastic water bottles had been eliminated from the corporate office, and a recycling program for empty beauty products had been implemented. Today, Chanel is dedicated to shifting 100% of their operations to renewable energy and decreasing their carbon emissions by 50% by 2025.
KPMG is a multinational professional services network and pioneer of sustainability consulting. Corporate Finance Executive, Chloe Britton, is passionate about sustainable development and education. When she joined us for the One Young World Summit in The Hague, she had already been part of a CSR initiative at KPMG where she and her team worked with secondary school students to educate and encourage them to be mindful of their carbon footprint and discuss how they could utilise green energy. By 2030 they are committed to using 100% renewable electricity across their estate, reducing their carbon emissions dramatically.
What influence do you have?
When you work in a role that isn’t directly linked to sustainability within a corporate organisation, it can be easy to think, ‘but what can I do?’ In actual fact, corporate sustainability change starts with you:
1. Understand the existing sustainability commitments: Explore how your organisation approaches carbon emissions. Read your organisation's sustainability commitment and ask questions about what is being done to reduce carbon emissions.
2. Take inspiration: Research what similar organisations are doing to reduce carbon emissions and note any changes your company can make.
3. Join the sustainability committee: If your company has a sustainability committee, join it, and make your voice heard. If there isn’t already a committee at your organisation, create one. Let it be known that sustainability should be a priority within your organisation.
4. Enrol in the One Young World Academy: At the One Young World Academy you will learn from experts about the urgency of reducing our carbon emissions. The course will help you identify an area in your business to reduce carbon emissions and develop critical skills that will help you create change in your organisation.
We desperately need corporate organisations to lower their carbon emissions to reverse the drastic effects of the climate crisis. It starts with you.