In the context of discussion on Global Warming and
Green Planet, the point emphasized was what businesses besides the bottom-line
preoccupation can contribute to society at large. Implication is the businesses
must contribute towards achieving Green planet for the future. Forcefully and
no less dramatically Teus van Beek, Innovation Manager at Wärtsilä drove the
point home and said, “I think about how old my grandchildren will be in 2050
and by then what type of environment they will be living in.”
Wärtsilä has a
comprehensive release dealing with the issued involved in Green Planet.
Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, “If a problem
can’t be solved, enlarge it.”
The COP24, held between 2 and 14 December 2018 in
Katowice, Poland, may have been widely reported as a ‘cop-out’ after the US,
Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait refused to approve an international consensus
text that welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special
Report on Global Warming, says the release.
However, many opine that now is the time for private
companies and impact investment stakeholders to take over the reins from the
politicians to get the job done.
The latter part of the UN climate conference saw
government representatives, cities, corporations, commercial, institutional
investment banks, NGOs and industry experts congregating for the World Climate
Summit – Investment COP. This side-event was all about strengthening the
bottom-up approach – collaborations across sectors and industries.
Not an optional target
The clarity in goal has never been so clear – to limit
global warming to 1.5°C, we need to achieve not only net-zero emissions by 2050
but net-positive for the latter part of the century thereafter. Carbon positive
requires us to go beyond achieving net-zero carbon emissions to actually create
an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the
A common thread running across all panel discussions
was the transition towards renewable energy, energy efficiency, renewable heat
and cooling as well as getting transportation off oil.
“You can’t bring coal back because the economics are
fundamentally failing against renewable energy in many sectors and across many
geographies. We need to be net-zero by 2050,” said Peter Boyd, CEO of Time4Good
and the former COO of the Carbon War Room.
Some are already committed. For instance, Maersk
announced its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This entails carbon
neutral vessels being commercially viable by 2030. IKEA has set the ambition of
becoming 100% renewable by 2020. Schneider Electric launched its
Villaya-Emergency solution, a solar microgrid fitted into a standard shipping
Finance, like in most cases, is one of the cornerstones in this mission. The
economic case for climate-smart development is now clearer but the amount of
resources needed to mobilise change is huge.
The World Bank Group is playing a leading role,
delivering a record-breaking USD 20.5 billion in direct financing for climate
action in 2018. Senior Director for Climate Change at the World Bank, John
Roome said, “There is cause for optimism with clear evidence of the economic
momentum driving finance and markets towards low-carbon opportunities,
especially as the cost of renewables and batteries falls.”
Investment companies are increasingly looking into
funding climate-friendly companies. One of the investors testifying to this was
Matthew Arnold, Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Finance at
“Green Finance is now a thing. We will finance
responsible companies and our definition and assessment of ‘responsible’ spans
a company’s commitment, capacity to do so and track record,” he said on the
bank’s USD 200 billion green fund.
Businesses need to be thinking not only of the bottom
line, but also of the positive contributions they can make to society-at-large.
The thing is, it’s difficult to change the risk appetite of conservative
Teus van Beek, Innovation Manager at Wärtsilä drove
the point home and said, “I think about how old my grandchildren will be in
2050 and by then what type of environment they will be living in.”
Van Beek emphasised that at Wärtsilä we already have
the technology and the expertise to create disruptive solutions for greener
shipping. What is needed is positive financial incentives whereby maritime
operators who are considering adopting clean solutions are incentivised to do
so. A key factor here is legislation.
“But the challenge with legislation is that it takes
such a long time to develop. And if we wait until that happens, it’s going to
be too late,” he added.
Van Beek pointed out that while businesses need a clear signal from the
government, it’s the role of businesses, like Wärtsilä and other corporations,
to show government where they need to act. “Because we can better see what is
currently happening in the markets, we need to set the pace and lead policy,
not necessarily the other way around,” he said.
Inger-Anne Blindheim Madsen, CEO of the Norwegian
company, CleanTech Innovation AS highlighted the power of the cities and the
role of harbours: “Oslo has the policy to be a zero-emission harbour by 2030
and they have an intensive cooperation from all the logistic suppliers,
transport companies, the ship owners that are participating in the harbours.”
One of the projects highlighting the urgency is the
Wärtsilä-led SEA20. Its video garnered praise for depicting the human element
that can so easily be forgotten during conference talks. Van Beek took the
opportunity to pose a call to action. “We are creating a global movement
focused on the radical transformation of the marine and energy industries,
moving towards an ecologically sound, digitally connected and collaborative
ecosystem. Join us in developing the future, together.”