COP21 : From Corporate Carbon Reporting to Country Reporting

cop21-parisWhat was really agreed upon and which is the impact for countries and organizations

By Nikos Avlonas,
President of the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) & Adjunct Professor on Sustainability Management at DePaul University

186 countries coming to a consensus on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is regarded by many observers as an achievement in itself and is being hailed as “historic”. More specifically the governments of 186 nations put forth public plans detailing how they will be cutting carbon emissions through 2025 or 2030. Countries will also be legally required to reconvene every five years starting in 2023 to publicly report on how they are doing in terms of cutting emissions compared to their plans. They will be legally required to monitor and report on their emissions levels and reductions, using a universal accounting system.

While countries’ plans are voluntary, the legal requirements that they publicly monitor, verify and report what they are doing, are designed to create a “name-and-shame” system of global peer pressure, in hopes that countries will not want to be seen as international laggards.

The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best, scientists,  who have analyzed it estimate that it will cut global greenhouse gas emissions by about half enough as is necessary to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

imageCop21

Annual pledges for adaptation to climate change
Source: The Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

What was agreed upon :
•    To keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C
•    To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
•    For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
•    To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century

Future impact on business:
•    More demanding corporate legislation  and standards  for carbon reduction in countries with no strict goals (Developing countries)
•    Development of new  market mechanisms in order to measure and monitor national goals for reducing carbon emissions. These new mechanisms may  also apply to large businesses operating in those countries.
•    The technology revolution over the past five, has really been dramatic, and it will really change the picture for carbon reduction in the future, while more funding will be applicable especially in the developing countries.
•    More demand for transparency and external assurance or verification of corporate carbon footprint reductions

As conclusion, Paris is only the beginning of a shift towards a low-carbon world, and there is much more to do in the next coming years.

Sources: New York Times, BBC news

If you want to learn more about the impact of this new agreement, book online today for our upcoming global Certified Sustainability Practitioner Training here!
For more information contact: sustainability@cse-net.org
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