A top-down, bottom-up approach is needed to drive the transition to a low-carbon world, according to delegates at the World Green Energy Summit.
A top-down approach from policymakers would set out the taxation, funding and framework needed to get net zero across the line. This is the view of Xavier Anglada, managing director of Accenture Middle East. He told delegates at the summit in Dubai that the approach would have to be complemented by a shift in investors' mindsets from a focus on pure return for shareholders “to a 360 view” that considers a company’s effect on society.
That approach must then be paired with a bottom-up strategy that incorporates the huge demand from consumers “that want to be heard because we need a better world", Mr Anglada said.
Accenture, which has 600,000 staff spread around the globe, has pledged to be net zero by 2030, a move that has “huge implications not only on what we do, but our value chain, and our people”, Mr Anglada said.
He called for a huge commitment at the corporate level to recognising that sustainability and the path to net zero “is serious” and that “everyone is accountable”.
In the US, the State Department is teaming up with the World Economic Forum to persuade multinational companies to commit to buying low-carbon products by 2030 or sooner, in a push to accelerate climate change goals and develop supply chains.
Some of the world’s biggest companies have reportedly signed up to the First Movers Coalition created by John Kerry, the UK special presidential envoy for climate, to clean up notoriously carbon-intensive industries such as aviation, shipping and steel in the transport sector, according to Bloomberg Green, which is set to launch at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland next month.
Earlier this week, the chief executive of Mars, one of the world’s largest consumer products companies, said corporate commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions often fall short.
The comments from Grant Reid, along with Mars’s chief sustainability and procurement officer, Barry Parkin, came after the climate activist Greta Thunberg described many green actions promised by global leaders as “blah, blah, blah”.
“We all heard Greta,” Ms Parkin, said. “Greta is right. It’s not about the target, it’s about the progress and it’s the actions that matter.”
Mars has set out new science-based climate targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its business by 2050, including all those created by its suppliers and emissions from consumers using its brands.
Philippe Diez, vice president EMEA, energy and sustainability services, at Schneider Electric, told the summit that there has been a huge acceleration in the number of companies committing to net zero in recent years with “action coming with that”.
“Two years ago there were about 200 applicants and now there are 1,878 companies in the world that have submitted to science-based targets, out of which half have already committed on a roadmap to 1.5 degrees," he said.
“So it's pretty significant improvements and a sign of commitment. In terms of concrete actions out of that, Schneider Electric ... has never had so many requests, from the US to India to Mexico to Australia, to find new additional capacity of renewable energy for corporations. So I'm really optimistic that things are happening."