Avoiding carbon tunnel vision: action on climate change needs an inter-connected response

By Tina Nybo Jensen, International Policy Manager, GRI

Widening perspectives to understand all impacts

A catch-phrase doing the rounds on social media lately, coined by Jan Konietzko of Cognizant, is ‘carbon tunnel vision’. A clever play on words, yes, but beyond that it is a highly pertinent observation. If we achieve net-zero emissions yet overlook human rights, or fail to safeguard biodiversity, what will this mean for the wellbeing of people and planet?

Copy right: Jan Konietzko
Copy right: Jan Konietzko

At the heart of this is strengthening and highlighting the synergies between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. It will only be through concerted and connected action on these commitments, informed by evidence and data, that we can seize the opportunities for an inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Collaboration between public and private sectors

Alongside transnational coordination between governments, we need to further engage the private sector as a key partner in the realization and implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. Working closely with the UN Global Compact and other international organizations, GRI strives to highlight and increase the importance of corporate sustainability reporting for the SDGs.

Action that delivers tangible results

However, it is encouraging that well over 100 countries (representing over 85% of the world’s forests) have signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, committing to work collectively to halt and reverse forestry loss and land degradation by 2030, while promoting an inclusive rural transformation. This is a commendable vision — but we need to hold all parties to these commitments.

To secure tangible results — from safeguarding the environment to wider progress on the sustainability agenda — the action needs to start today

It cannot become a carte blanche to maintain ‘business as usual’ until 2030. Regularly and comprehensive reporting on sustainability impacts, with accountability from all organizations with an involvement, is essential to measure progress.

It’s time for true leadership

There are strong signs that business is already convinced of the urgency of the situation — and is, in fact, pressing governments to do much more. The We Mean Business Coalition call to action urges the G20 to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. It has been signed by 778 business leaders — representing US$2.7 trillion in annual revenue. Furthermore, one-fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies have set net-zero targets.

GRI is the independent international organization that helps businesses and other organizations communicate and understand their sustainability impacts.