Last month there was a question as to whether or not Ford lobbied Congress on the Keystone XL Pipeline. However, publically the automakers’ sustainability marketing promises to help achieve “climate stabilization”. In the US, companies have to disclose the subject of their lobbying, but do not have to disclose the position for which they are lobbying. This incomplete reporting raises consumer and investor concerns. Smart businesses are beginning to embrace transparency on climate change policies.
Take Ikea Group, for example. The company recently released this infographic to transparently share their position on climate change. In it, IKEA explained why climate change is relevant to its business interests. And they not only made it clear where they stand on the issue and which policy actions they support, they also communicated the message directly to European policymakers. IKEA is lobbying for ambitious, legally-binding 2030 targets for carbon dioxide emissions, renewable power and energy efficiency.
Not all companies take a black or white stance on global warming. Some are merely silent on the issue. There are a multitude of reasons including fear of publically taking a position on a political topic that might push away customers. Some businesses are grappling internally with climate change’s risks and opportunities, putting out consistent messaging, and trying to find the capacity to publically engage on the issue. Whatever the reason, it is certainly delaying much needed political breakthroughs on climate change.
Although businesses fall different places on the continuum of how to publically address climate change, there are resources available to help them engage responsibly with the issue. Take this guide that is a baseline for action and transparent reporting from the World Resources Institute, which was informed by the United Nations and business leaders, policymakers, and investors.
With the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, companies can expect more scrutiny from customers, shareholders and stakeholders regarding their position on global warming. Businesses can make a positive impact on the issue and the time to start acting is now.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, on Monday that says climate change’s effects are already happening across the globe. No continent, country or ocean is immune. Unfortunately, in many cases, the world is not prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report determines there are opportunities to respond to such risks but the risks become difficult to manage the more global warming there is.
“With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II. Field added: “Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming. We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond.”
The report outlines climate change impacts experienced thus far, future risks from global warming and opportunities to reduce risks. Some of the impacts of climate change that have already happened affect: agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods. Climate change doesn’t care whether your country is rich or poor, whether you’re located in the tropics or the South Pole, on a small island or land-locked on a large continent. It is affecting everyone on the planet and we must prepare now or pay a higher price later. The scary thing is that there are limits, even on the price we can pay.
“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: “The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change. Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions.”
The Working Group I report was released in September 2013 and the Working Group III report will be released in April 2014. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle ends with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014.
According to the “Climate Change in the American Mind” report, 33 percent of Americans said they believed there was widespread disagreement among scientists and four percent said that “most scientists think global warming is not happening.” Less than half (42 percent) of Americans knew that “most scientists think global warming is happening.”
The fossil fuel industry is waging a successful disinformation campaign. They took their strategy straight from Big Tobacco, who successfully bred doubt for many years that health experts were undecided on whether or not smoking cigarettes negatively impacted health. The idea seems laughable now, but we need to address the serious situation of the ailing health of our planet.
In fact, 97 percent of experts agree climate change is happening and it is human-caused. A new report was released this week from the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The report entitled, “What We Know” doesn’t presume to tell Americans what to think about global warming. Instead it says in the introduction that, “we consider it to be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action.”
Honestly, the first step of admitting that climate change is happening and that humans are the cause is less about blame and more about recognizing that there is a problem before we can take the logical next step to solve it.
I hope we can see the misinformation about climate change for what it is and start making changes before things look like this Isaac Cordal sculpture depicting politicians discussing global warming.
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