one green planet
one green planet

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in the Swiss-Alpine resort of Davos every January, remains an important gathering for world leaders in the fight to tackle inflation, the cost-of-living crisis and climate chaos. With 47 heads of state in attendance, it is clear that there is an appetite to step up and take on the challenges we face. This year, the discussions at Davos revolved around the climate crisis and the failure of both mitigation and adaptation strategies.

However, there were hopeful highlights from the annual gathering, including promising developments in expanding the blue economy, philanthropy for climate action, and heavy industry net-zero commitments. Here are the five key takeaways from Davos 2023 that will interest companies engaged in the climate fight.

  1. More 2050 commitments from heavy industry polluters to reach net zero Good news came in the form of an announcement by heavy industry, which is responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. The World Economic Forum claimed that nine new industrial clusters across Europe, Asia, and North America have joined its Transforming Industrial Clusters Towards Net Zero initiative. The project aims to bring 100 industrial clusters together to secure net-zero commitments by the middle of the century.
  2. Envisioning the role of consumption in a just, regenerative economy The Global Risks Report 2023 ranks cost of living as the most severe, short-term global risk for governments and businesses. However, talk about the climate crisis dominated meeting discussions. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that this business model is inconsistent with human survival.” The focus on consumption has led to the creation of the Brand-Led Culture Change event, where industry leaders can explore potential shifts in consumption that would enable a just, regenerative economy.
  3. Philanthropy very much on the table when it comes to climate action When it comes to solving our climate, energy, nature, and sustainability challenges, leveraging corporate giving remains a key strategy for businesses and governments. However, of the $810 billion handed out by philanthropic organizations in 2021, just 2% went towards GHG-reduction projects. This year, Davos saw the launch of Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) scheme, which aims to close the $3 trillion annual finance gap between current levels of support for climate and nature initiatives and what is actually needed to meet international agreements.
  4. Oceans to get the financial backing they need to survive and thrive The promotion of the so-called blue economy, which assigns a value to marine resources, thereby attracting more investment in its protection and restoration, was a central theme of Davos 2023. WEF’s Ocean Action Agenda announced a new deal with the Government of Indonesia to help scale conservation projects. The partnership hopes to stimulate demand for, and access to, high-quality blue-carbon credits and projects by bringing together stakeholders that can help to close deals and grow the market.
  5. Acceptance that much of climate change is irreversible and we must now build resilience A key message that came through loud and clear during Davos was that many of the changes to our climate and weather patterns are now ‘baked in’. Governments and businesses were urged to renew their focus on preparing for an increase in the frequency and severity of weather events.

Despite the progress made, we need to continue pushing for change. Greta Thunberg and her fellow activists continue to hold businesses to account, and their message is clear: greenwash at your peril. Focus on a sustainable future. As McKinsey’s Tracy Francis puts it, “there are no solutions to the world’s largest problems that don’t involve the leaders of the world’s largest companies and national and international policymakers.”

In conclusion, Davos 2023 provided some hope for a more sustainable future. It showcased the important role that businesses, governments, and civil society play in addressing the climate crisis. The commitments made by heavy industry polluters to reach net zero, the focus on the role of consumption in a regenerative economy, and the launch of the GAEA scheme are all positive developments. We must continue to push for more action on climate change and hold businesses accountable for their actions. It’s time for us to take action, reduce our carbon footprint, and encourage our leaders to prioritize sustainability.

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Earthlings For Life Tee by Tiny Rescue: Climate Collection

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