Sep 22, 2021
In her interview with Reuters Events Sustainable Business editor Terry Slavin during Climate Week NY, Climate Group CEO Helen Clarkson explains why the theme of this year's event is Getting it done
In the interview she underscores the urgent need to act to avoid disastrous climate change, and that it isn't enough for companies to set net-zero targets for 20 or 30 years' time if they don't have concrete plans to cut emissions in the near-term. "What's stopping you from doing this tomorrow?" she asks. “You need to build experience. Don’t wait for it to be easier.”
The need to get started now, even when supportive government policies aren’t yet in place, is one of the main messages of Climate Group's newly published Getting Real report, which talked to 27 major corporations, many of them members of Climate Group initiatives such as EV100, EP100, RE100 and the SteelZero initiative, to demonstrate how ambitious climate commitments can be turned into tangible outcomes.
As Clarkson explains in the interview, other messages include the need to own the problem through the entire value chain, and that climate transition demands business innovation, not just technology innovation.
Clarkson also talks about how Climate Group wants to bring a supportive voice of business to the upcoming COP26 negotiations, reassuring policymakers that companies are in favour of bold action to address CO2 emissions. One example is its partnership with EV100 member BT Group and 30 UK businesses in the UK Electric Fleets coalition, which has come up with policy suggestions for the UK government to achieve its goal of 100% electric car and van sales by 2030.
Asked about the global standard for net zero target setting being developed by the Science Based Targets Initiative, Clarkson says it will be important, if only to end some of the debate in the sustainability community over what net zero is.
“I worry that we spend so much time arguing what net zero is, it’s diverting resources from doing the actual work … And we need to do the work. It’s urgent.”
She also voices concerns over how lack of progress on increasing diversity on company boards will hold companies back in the climate transition, because of their failure to properly understand the world their businesses operate in, and the need for climate justice.
And she explains why she disagrees with NGOs who argue that COP26 should be postponed until next year, because of lack of representation from the Global South.