Mitigating the Impact of Climate Change Depends on a Strong Commitment to Sustainability

CSR news

Posted by SPIE UK

The Global COP events have continued to highlight the climate emergency and the next, which will be held in the UK (Scotland) next year, will do the same.

The climate emergency and air pollution are a significant impact on the economies of the world and the health of people in most countries. Nations need even stronger collaboration to protect the natural world upon which we totally depend on. The Global collaboration on developing treatments and vaccines for the COVID 19 pandemic has indicated we could, by following the science, rise up to tackle the much more significant threat from the impacts of global warming. It is without doubt that the pandemic has shaken the world, and cities are the biggest problem, but at the same time, nearly 100 cities have continued the fight against the climate challenges in the knowledge that it is a much larger and much longer-term emergency.  

Complementary to mitigating CO2 emissions, we need to implement and share short and long-term solutions to ensure sustainable development for future generations and the survival of the natural world.  

The Big Balance to Achieve Sustainability

Representing a combined population of nearly 125 million, cities from the United Kingdom to Korea have been recognised on the CDP 2020 A List. These cities continue to ramp up their environmental action and ambition, knowing that we need to urgently build resilience and rapidly cut emissions to safeguard the planet, its citizens and the economy. 

Current trends clearly show our consumption continues to increase global emissions that are still escalating, and unfortunately, global average temperatures have exceeded 1 degree with the tipping point limit being 1.5 degrees. This indicates a discord between economics and human behaviour. Fundamentally people need to know more about these important issues so that they can begin on an individual basis to contribute to the 100% carbon neutral we need to reach by 2050. However, this may be too late as a critical turning point will be around 2030 when we must achieve an economic structure that is based on renewable energy. Continued waste, increasing consumption and extensive use of fossil fuels all feed a modern lifestyle that is unsustainable.  

Global Temperature Change

As a result, the pressure from shareholders on organisations to travel the sustainability journey increases as the time available reduces. Evidently, we are all part of the problem and must all be part of the solution. If our behaviour remains the same as it is, it will drive us to need over two planets to satisfy our current levels of consuming natural resources - there is no second planet. This is not only a huge economical cost, but has a detrimental effect on our health and the fundamental resources we need for a decent life. The bedrock of many commercial organisations is being rapidly challenged; for example, some major fossil fuel firms are beginning to grasp the need to change their business model to renewable energy sources. Cities are on the front line today with 55% of the world's population living in urban areas, yet they consume over two-thirds of the world's energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. Furthermore, with 90 percent of the world's urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are in high risk of devastating impacts of climate change; rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms to name but two – this is a self-defeating prophecy.

SPIE’s corporate responsibilities towards the environment have been firmly on our agenda for some years and we are developing our sustainability journey with greater depth and focus. Our corporate reporting on carbon emissions is well established, however we are seeking better solutions for our clients, an example of which is our current research into the use of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly source of energy.

George Adams
Energy & Engineering Director

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