The next 10 years will be crucial in the fight against climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sent a clear and unavoidable message: the global economy needs to undergo rapid and far-reaching decarbonization.
We need to reduce emissions 45% by 2030 and hit net zero by 2050 to hold off the worst impacts of climate change.
There is no time to lose and we need the most powerful tools for the job.
IPCC, Talanoa Dialogue and the Paris Rulebook
It is against this backdrop that government negotiators, business leaders, sub-national governments and civil society will meet next week in Katowice, Poland for the next round of UN climate negotiations.
A coal heartland, Katowice is perhaps an unlikely place for a climate conference, but it is here that negotiators will refocus their efforts to collectively raise their climate ambition and to agree a powerful tool; the ‘Paris Rulebook’.
We expect to hear the calls of the IPCC echo through the conference halls of Katowice; and nowhere more so than within the Talanoa Dialogue.
This year-long, multi-stakeholder dialogue, aimed at raising collective climate ambition comes to a close in Poland. It should provide a strong call to action for all stakeholders, driving the levels of ambition needed by 2020 – particularly in countries’ new round of climate plans due that year – and ultimately bring the world closer to meeting the aims of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Rulebook, meanwhile, will set the framework for action, providing a set of robust guidelines to fully operationalize the agreement and provide much-needed transparency and clarity.
It is expected to include detail on how countries communicate their climate plans, outline how, and how often countries should update these plans, and against what metrics they will monitor and report on progress. Most importantly it will lay out the foundations for countries to move at varying speeds, and how they will support each other to collectively move the dial on ambition.
Together these processes will set the groundwork for action. In an increasingly uncertain world and of growing political turmoil from all corners of the globe – including Europe, the US and Brazil – this rule-based regime will also provide the clarity to the real-world economy that, when it comes to climate change, there is only one way forward.
Rules and transparency vital for businesses
At CDP we see first-hand, every day, the steps that companies, investors, cities, states and regions are taking to build a sustainable economy for both people and planet.
We saw it through the wealth of commitments and progress at the Global Climate Action Summit, through the 1300 new companies disclosing to CDP in 2018, including 240 companies in the US and 180 in China; and the over 480 companies committed to set science-based emission reduction targets, including 26 companies in India and 11 in South Africa.
The transition is underway; and it is unstoppable.
But as the world continues to move along the zero-carbon transition, transparency and accountability from all stakeholders will be essential to ensure we are on track, and to continue to drive ambition.
We know that rules and transparency matter to the business community – it’s how markets operate.
We also know that when governments send a signal, business acts.
When it comes to climate change, the Paris Agreement sent the signal, but a clear roadmap – laid out in the Rulebook – will enable them to go further, faster.
The power of disclosure
At CDP we understand the power of transparency.
For almost two decades we have been asking companies, cities, states and regions around the world to disclose their environmental risks, opportunities and strategies in a bid to transform capital markets and build a sustainable economy for all.
We believe that transparency is the vital foundation for action: and over the last 18 years, we have been proved right.
By measuring their emissions, for example, we have seen companies achieve greater reductions over time. In their first year responding to CDP, some 38% of suppliers have emission reduction targets.
By year three that number has jumped to 69% of companies.
In fact, in 2017, some 89% of companies responding to CDP had emission reduction targets in place. Meanwhile, some 70% of companies reported board-level oversight of water issues, and 73% have committed to remove or reduce deforestation in their supply chains.
As more stakeholders step-up to realize the opportunities they see in a low-carbon, water secure and deforestation-free world.
Take for example, cities. Since the Paris Agreement was agreed in 2015, the number of cities setting emission reductions targets has increased by 90%.
Building out the rulebook: what governments can learn from business
By its very nature, transparency can lead to scrutiny. It is precisely this that makes it such a powerful tool for improved performance and finding efficiencies.
We know that asking the right questions, in a consistent, global manner, means we can gather meaningful and comparable data – allowing companies, investors, cities, states and regions to benchmark themselves, those they invest in, and those they buy from.
For example, as businesses look to be transparent and make their environmental data available to their investors and customers, they have been getting their emissions data independently verified and following common, global standards, such as the GHG Protocol and ISO standards, allowing for comparison and building confidence.
This allows them to adhere to one common set of criteria, while building in nationally appropriate factors.
At CDP we also understand that this global challenge does not affect all stakeholders equally. When it comes to business, some sectors can, and should, do more than others. At CDP we have turned to sector-based reporting to help overcome these challenges and provide more meaningful data.
The ambition loop: driving real economy action
As we have seen through CDP’s disclosure platform, the Paris Rulebook can provide such a framework for the world’s governments. A framework that provides a strong, global set of rules, asks the right questions, and provides consistency, but also flexibility to build action and ambition over time.
Meanwhile, by providing the right signals in Poland, government will send the clear message back to the real-world economy that it too can go further.
By setting clear rules, governments will map the direction of travel, while government support for the IPCC’s findings will mark the destination.