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How I See It: By Kurt Harrison

How I See It: By Kurt Harrison

Kurt Harrison - How I see It
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Key Takeaways:

  • With COP 28 well underway, the frothy optimism regarding climate and sustainability over the past few years has given way to a crushing realization that organizations are not on track to reach what were, in hindsight, overly aspirational decarbonization and net zero commitments. 
  • The days of lofty pronouncements are over. Now, a more pragmatic focus on actionable solutions that generate tangible near-term results is required. 
  • The best corporate leaders will proactively blend a “moonshot vision” with bold investments and quick wins that will galvanize organizations to see the art of the possible. 

The world is at an inflection point. We face multiple simultaneous geopolitical challenges, exacerbated by a global climate crisis that threatens to permanently disrupt the world as we know it. In prior periods of global disruption, the world has seen new leaders rise to the fore to inspire the hope and determination required to overcome seemingly impossible challenges. 

Climate change is not only the challenge of our time; it is also the opportunity of our time. However, the past decade has unfortunately been characterized by pie-in-the-sky climate proclamations and policy statements, leading to a byzantine proliferation of acronyms that overpromised and underdelivered—the appeasement phase of climate response, if you will. 

Related Article: How I see it: Green isn’t a Colour

Now the cold, hard reality of science-based targets has set in. 

The targets that organizations were so quick to set…now feel out of reach. It is increasingly clear that none of the SDGs will be achieved by 2030. And despite myriad climate initiatives, global energy and industrial process-related CO2 emissions actually rose in 2022, to hit an all-time high of 36.8 billion tons. It seems likely that this could be exceeded in 2023.

If the beginning phase of building a more sustainable future was marked by lofty visions, goal setting, measuring and reporting, what we need now are actionable solutions to generate tangible near term-results.

It’s time to shift the emphasis away from aspirational targets that are extraordinarily difficult to achieve and prohibitively costly to measure and report on. The world needs to prioritize achievable, tactical, tech-enabled solutions that can deliver impact now. Like other times in our history, getting there will require bold, visionary leaders. Leaders who not only set the vision, but also make bold investments and achieve quick wins that galvanize their organizations toward a new and sustainable future. This is a critical turning point, and 2023 will be looked back upon as the end of the beginning for the global climate change response.  

This article is contributed by Kurt Harrison. Every week ESG News delivers smart commentary from ESG practitioners and experts to unpack issues of the day. Submit an article: [email protected]


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