EIC GHG Stories - Climate news recap: The State of things
Climate change plays a heavy role in our daily lives – from how our food is produced to the clothes we wear daily. Rightfully so, one of the most trending topics of the year continues to be climate change and its imperatives. While the problem remains a serious one, continuous action is required to tackle these matters efficiently and promptly. Part of the European Innovation Council (EIC), this GHG joint initiative aims to inspire EIC-funded SMEs to undertake their carbon reduction measures and other sustainable practices to help put a halt to the devastation of the Earth. Included in a monthly series, this Climate News Recap article serves as a service to our beneficiaries in the hopes of providing valuable insights and practices conducted by external and main players before our time runs out.
More and more, we’re considering all things climate change-related. Corporates, EU policy, science, among others, all have a strong component nowadays that pays strong attention to this. With that being said, the following questions need answering:
What’s being done to address this?
Are corporates integrating climate change strategies into their businesses?
Are we doing enough to reverse the scenario?
How is the EU handling this matter?
With a mission to inspire industry leaders and entrepreneurial innovators, the EIC GHG programme is offering a more in-depth perspective on matters related to the environment. In this light, we’ve put together an immersive series recap of the most important news articles that speak of the GHG programme related matters to potentially provide some answers to the questions above.
Firstly, while some still evoke the ‘well below 2°C’ temperature targets, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) rose the bar and proposed ‘1.5°C’ above pre-industrial levels. If you’re asking yourself why, their reasoning was very clear. Lila Karbassi (SBTi Board Chair and Chief of Programmes at UN Global Compact) explained that: “The SBTi has become the de facto standard for businesses to set credible targets to address the climate crisis. However, to have a fighting chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, we need to urgently scale up and mainstream the adoption of 1.5°C-aligned targets. This strategy enables us to consistently provide businesses across the globe with the most robust target-setting framework so that companies can confidently align with climate science”.
This isn’t a random decision, given 1.5°C-aligned targets are presently the most common choice for businesses everywhere, representing 66% of all submissions to the SBTi in 2021. To be more accurate, more than 600 companies have committed to this number.
Therefore, the SBTi will focus on accelerating the adoption and implementation of the 1.5°C proposals aligned with science-based targets. Especially from companies in high-emitting sectors and across G20 countries. That will include adopting a new governance and operational model, strengthen SBTi’s technical authority and providing a more structured and agile project management approach to support efficient, effective, and exponential growth.
As Alberto Carrillo Pineda (Co-Founder of SBTi) puts it: “COVID-19 and climate breakdown are the two biggest challenges facing life as we know it. We can't solve either without widespread global action. For COVID, it's the vaccination of people. For the climate, it's the decarbonisation of our economies. We need every company to play their part and set science-based 1.5°C-aligned emission reduction targets to help us halve global emissions in the next eight years”. As part of the EIC GHG programme, and related to this topic, a webinar on SBTi will take place on 28 October 2021, from 10:00 to 11:30 (CEST), to explore the most critical aspects of this methodology and what it represents for EIC-funded SMEs.
On that same note, because of the European Union’s plan to ‘build back better’ after COVID-19, firms are bracing for climate change via investments in climate measures and preparing for the transition to a net-zero carbon future. What’s the plan? The help of the European Union’s new taxonomy, which enables them with a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities, to provide clarity when it comes to larger companies. The greatest culprit of this is climate change and the fact that firms are gradually beginning to include climate risks in their investment strategies, operations and asset valuations – more info on this can be found in the European firms and climate change 2020/2021 report.
The massive flooding in Europe in early July which included casualties and an estimated €2.5 billion in property damage, is one of the many cataclysmic events that caused firms to feel the heat and take some sort of action. During the EIBIS 2020, nearly 60% of European firms expressed their concerns about being exposed to the physical risks side of things compared to 50% in the United States.
Having started to weigh in the physical risks they could be facing, EU firms’ investment in this is on the rise – 45% are actively investing to address climate change. Those located in Western and Northern Europe are the most active investors, while those in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe are less involved – which means work still needs to be done.
This leads us to the barriers some EU countries have that are directly linked to uncertainty over regulations and taxation, along with high upfront investment costs that are limiting their ability to invest in climate measures. Such things are hindering Europe’s progress in meeting its 2030 climate change goals, which include reducing carbon emissions by 55%.
Ultimately, strong climate change policies that lead firms to invest will need to be created, to help green Europe’s economy, and to ensure businesses are aware that investing in the green future is an unavoidable thing that needs to be done so they’re not left behind.
Last, but certainly not least, European Union’s chief executive Ursula von der Leyen stated while delivering her State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg (France), on September 15, 2021, that tackling climate change will be at the top of her agenda. She wishes to take bold steps for the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, along with a digital transformation of its economy.
The European Commission President added that her “message [was] that Europe is ready to do more”, which includes doubling its international funding to protect nature and halt the decline of the world’s biodiversity.
Having the intention of increasing the financial support to help poorer countries fight climate change and adapt to its impacts, she added that they “will now propose an additional €4 billion for climate finance until 2027”, as she called on the EU’s allies to step up their commitments on tackling climate change.
“We expect the United States and our partners to step up too. This is vital because closing the climate finance gap together, the US and the European Union would be such a strong signal for global climate leadership”, von der Leyen reiterated.
Already contributing with $25 billion per year in climate finance, climate finance is expected to be a decisive issue for the EU at the UN’s COP26 summit in November, where world leaders will attempt to unlock commitments to cut emissions faster and stave off catastrophic climate change scenarios.
Have richer countries succeeded to deliver their 2019 pledge to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance to poorer countries by 2020? The answer is no. Due to that missing support, some developing nations say they cannot make huge investments required to wean their economies off fossil fuels and onto clean energy. Not to mention, bolster their infrastructure to cope with worsening storms, floods, and rising sea levels.
As a way of actively harness critical information that goes in line with the ‘green global trend’ we’re facing to preserve Earth and benefit all people, these are just a few of the articles that made the headlines this past year. If after reading this you’re asking yourself how you can also chip in, here’s our answer. As an EIC-funded SME, you can join the EIC GHG programme. Being a journey towards carbon neutrality, with a set of unique steps that you can benefit from, this programme will aid you in making your green contribution towards a cleaner and safer planet.
About the EIC GHG programme
With the EIC GHG programme, part of the Business Acceleration Services, the EIC offers its beneficiaries the support and expertise needed to assess, track and efficiently reduce their carbon footprint through the use of a dedicated GHG tool, monthly webinars and further resources.
In addition, co-creation activities with corporates, industrial associations, regions in carbon transition and other EIC beneficiaries are planned. More information on the EIC GHG programme can be found here.