While the report addresses the rapidly escalating rise of climate change on the corporate agenda, in the six months since its publication, the arguably more important need for governments to support and enable a transition to net-zero to drive global economic recovery has accelerated.
Governments have a catalytic role to play in facilitating and, likely, regulating the transition of their countries to a low-carbon global economy. Without playing a role, they risk creating market failure whereby environmental degradation, social deterioration and economic decline are ‘permitted’. In actioning climate challenges, governments could learn from the corporate, nascent response to the climate agenda.
So far, various governments have made pledges to 2030 or 2050 targets that align them to net-zero emissions pathways in parallel to their Paris Agreement commitments1. A string of recent events has created a series of government pledges and commitments that have been announced. The most recent of which, a virtual climate summit called by US President Joe Biden in line with Earth Day last month, saw the US raise their emissions reductions targets to 50-52%2. Prior to the summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reset the UK’s emissions reduction target by 2035 to a huge 78%3, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau increased Canada’s emissions reduction target to 40-45%4 and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga increased Japan’s target to 46%5. Notably, despite the virtual climate summit, Australia did not update its emissions reduction target.
Government is at a unique juncture, though. While we’re seeing the clear setting and use of targets, there is a greater need to rapidly operationalize action and solutions that will get us to these goals. Where are we seeing some leadership so far?
- New Zealand this month, mandated the reporting of climate-related financial disclosures for publicly listed organizations from reporting year FY22 onwards6.
- The United Kingdom in February published its Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity (the Dasgupta review), to which Prime Minister Johnson has acknowledged the need to ‘build back greener’ following the pandemic7.
- The United States – in January, the Biden-Harris administration took Executive Actions to address climate change, globally, centering the need to address issues as a matter of foreign policy, national security and environmental stewardship and creating a “whole-of-government federated approach to tackling the crisis”8.
- The European Union (EU) has, in March, agreed to put a carbon price on goods imported from outside the EU in its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism9 creating a World Trade Organisation-compliant levy on non-EU goods in support of the EU’s Green Deal10 (its emissions reduction approach and target).