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Post: Its time for the bold and decisive action

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Its time for the bold and decisive action

The climate crisis and biodiversity loss are intertwined crises that demand urgent attention. The rise in temperature signifies more than just a number – it’s the line between manageable challenges and catastrophe. It’s time for bold, decisive action. The private sector, under the spotlight of society’s expectations, can take the lead using science-based, transformative actions.

By Joy Crane

The pressure on companies to act is intensifying. While we can mitigate some effects at various temperatures, crossing the 1.5°C threshold is a tipping point we’re beginning to experience.

Current projections show an approximate 10% rise in emissions by 2030, threatening natural habitats and mass species extinction. Importantly, it’s also crucial to recognise that biodiversity loss isn’t solely a consequence of the climate crisis; it’s also driven by habitat destruction and unsustainable practices.

According to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), in 2022, there was an 80% increase in companies committing to ambitious climate targets, with about 2,400 aligning with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

The pressure on companies to act doesn’t come from one source alone, though. In larger companies, 70% of senior management feel client pressure, while smaller companies grapple with regulatory concerns. Employees, investors, and civil society also call for action, making it both a business obligation and a way to stay competitive.

The biodiversity loss and climate crisis challenges are linked, and so too are the climate action solutions. What is climate action? It is about abiding with the mitigation hierarchy, reducing emissions within the value chain and promoting reductions and removals beyond it. The SBTi serves as a structured framework to guide businesses.

Acting on the climate crisis and biodiversity loss boosts competitiveness and financial performance. It demonstrates social responsibility while earning customer loyalty and investor support. Regardless of the sector, a business must adopt a robust sustainability strategy to remain relevant.

But a strategy alone isn’t enough. Making commitments without follow-through can be risky for the company and the planet. The current trajectory suggests we may exceed the 1.5°C temperature-increase limit outlined in the Paris Agreement.

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GREENWASHING
The urgency to act quickly has led to “greenwashing”, where the gap between a company’s commitment and actions raises scepticism. However, it’s not always about intentional deceit. Even an unintentional oversight by misusing a word like “green” can damage a brand’s reputation.

Surprisingly common, greenwashing undermines consumer trust. In a recent “sweep” of brand websites, the EU found that nearly half of featured green claims were “exaggerated, false, or deceptive”.

In Australia, the National Competition and Consumer Commission noted that 57% of brands across eight sectors had “promoted concerning claims about their environmental credentials”, and another study found that 72% of CEOs in North America believe their organisation has overstated its sustainability efforts.

Public demand for transparency is driving stricter government oversight. A study by the European Commission found that 53% of the environmental claims made for products and services in the EU were vague and misleading. As many as 40% were simply without substance.

GREENWASHING CRACKDOWN
In March 2023, the EU Commission published a proposal for a directive against advertising that presents products, services and the company itself as more environmentally friendly than they are. The proposed directive would require companies to substantiate their voluntary green claims in business-to-consumer commercial practices. The proposal is now in the hands of the co-legislators.

It is becoming imperative for businesses to back all sustainability actions and claims with high-quality, credibly verified data to prove real-world impact. But how can you balance the need for rapid action with the ability to provide evidence that your actions are making a positive change?

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BE A FOREST WARRIOR
Supporting sustainable forestry is easy for companies to drive meaningful impact on the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

When managed responsibly, forests reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and storing carbon dioxide, thereby removing it from the atmosphere. As well as being home to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, these environments nurture the vital ecosystems that people rely on for shelter, food, livelihood, and more. Forest ecosystem services include carbon sequestration, water filtration, air purification and biodiversity maintenance.

Although forestry-related businesses can support sustainable efforts impactfully in various ways, it is not easy to measure their impact.

ENTER THE FSC
FSC can help businesses easily unlock verified and credible claims around their responsible forestry projects. The organisation is developing Verified Impact, an upgrade to the Ecosystem Services Procedure, to unlock high-quality, independently verified, data-driven claims about ecosystem services in forestry projects.

The data-led storytelling solution will facilitate transparent reporting to regulators, demonstrating positive impact, and confidently sharing achievements.

Source: Woodbiz Magazine – November/December 2023
(Pages 18 – 19)

 

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