How businesses in Ireland must tackle the climate crisis

BITCI News - Leadership - Nov 01, 2021

The climate crisis and nature emergency will now be front and centre of attention over the next fortnight, as the world gathers at COP26 in Glasgow for a decisive UN Climate Change Conference. If ever there was a concern about the scientific evidence, report after report, warning after warning unequivocally state that our planet is burning. Action will not reverse some of the damage already done to the earth and our eco-systems.

Against the backdrop of COP26, the Irish Climate Change Advisory Council published its decade-long sets of carbon budgets and these will be taken into sectoral budgets and a concrete action plan to decarbonize our economy and society.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 is the next necessary step to ensure we do not continue to cause further irreversible damage and limit emissions to the critical ceiling of 1.5 degrees. The cross-sectoral plan brings a more coherent and internationally aligned action response to the climate crisis and nature emergencies.

For over 20 years, Business in the Community Ireland has built a unique platform for collective action, assembled Ireland’s leading experts, built a community of practitioners covering all sectors of the economy, and continues to emphasise a whole of society approach on sustainability, education, and employment where no-one gets left behind.

Our purpose is to inspire and enable businesses to bring about a sustainable, low carbon economy and an inclusive society where everyone thrives. We encourage the reinforcement in the Climate Action Plan of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the biodiversity emergency, the need for a just transition, and the role of sustainable communities.

A fundamental initiative, the Business in the Community Ireland Low Carbon Pledge has been recognised by previous Climate Plans as an industry-led collective initiative to encourage and support the decarbonisation of our economy.

Our Low Carbon Pledge is a growing movement of businesses that have pledged to set carbon emissions targets across all direct and indirect activities, based on science, no later than 2024.

Collaboration is key to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy: with the Low Carbon Pledge, companies receive guidance and access to a cross-sectoral knowledge platform enabling them to accelerate the achievement of their environmental goals both in terms of emissions reduction and the tackling of the biodiversity emergency.

BITCI believes that a robust approach to tackle the climate crisis and achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement requires that business focus on:


1. Aligning business strategy with the Climate Action Plan

We call on business to commit to the principles and key actions of the Plan. Now is the opportunity for business to go beyond compliance, to seize the opportunities of the low carbon economy; to equip their Boards and decision-making structures with expertise in the low carbon economy and to engage customers, investors and communities in the transition we must face and embrace

2. Going beyond carbon

Ensuring that the nexus between carbon emissions reduction, impact on nature and biodiversity loss and water conservation is recognised and interconnected. In addition to setting Science Based Targets and climate financing commitments, businesses must also invest in nature conservation and restoration, which can provide 30% or more of the climate solution. The much-needed energy transition must be accompanied by a sustainable land, freshwater and ocean use transition.

3. Embedding decarbonisation across the supply chain

Research shows that over 80% of the overall emissions of a business occur in their supply chain. Emissions reductions initiatives must address both direct and indirect emissions

4. Partner for common solutions

Strategic collaboration will be required for any business keen on decarbonizing. Business in the Community Ireland will continue to support members through communities of practice to innovate, seek radical solutions and mechanisms to innovate, test and find new solutions

5. Being held accountable for commitments

It is critical for all actors, including business to not only make commitments, but to provide evidence of how their commitments are being implemented. Disclosure frameworks such as the TCFD (Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) should be promoted and encouraged

6. Driving a fair and just transition

Business has a key role to play. All enterprises that are moving to a more sustainable model of work must take into account any impacts that this transition will have on employees, customers and their communities

7. Advocate for radical change

We require systemic change to overcome the existential challenge of the climate crisis and nature emergencies. Business and other leaders must use their influence to engage others in this agenda of change.

Business in the Community Ireland, through its network of 120 of Ireland’s leading companies wants to contribute to further developing a vision for a net zero emissions and nature positive Ireland and welcomes the opportunity to further engage in a much needed conversation and coalition to make Ireland a leader in sustainability.

As we embark on a decisive COP26, it is evident that societal expectations will continue to rise towards government, business, and civil society to deliver on the existential challenge of securing a better planet for all.

Find out more about the Low Carbon Pledge and how to join Ireland’s only dedicated business network to sustainability.


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