CEO Memo: Climate change - While we’ve been waiting

Battling climate change is a task that has made itself at home on many ‘to do’ lists. We raise it in business meetings and conversations with colleagues, we are all aware we really need to ‘do something about it’, and when rains, fires, and floods impact the structural integrity of our homes and future of our businesses, we lament the changes that we should have already made. 

There is certainly no longer any doubt that climate change is an issue that needs our urgent attention. 

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group released a report announcing that our collective and continued reliance on fossil fuels was putting the world on track to exceed the 1.5°C increase in temperature.  
 
More recently, Australia’s position took a significant tumble on The Green Future Index 2022, which ranks nations and territories on their efforts to reduce their emissions. Out of the 76 participants, Australia dropped from 35 to 52, putting us in the ‘Climate laggards’ bracket. 

And while there are many initiatives under way — all tiers of government — federal, state and local, need to be aligned for Australia to move forward in a cohesive, effective way. 

Many organisations have been taking the lead, ramping up their efforts with a set of strong resources and knowledge now emerging. Collaboration will be key here given no business or organisation can solve climate change on its own.  

Adding to the resources and the impetus for action, Governance Institute recently released our Guide for boards and management on the path to net zero. 

It’s a step-by-step guide that responds to significant shifts in expectations on organisations to take action — including disclosing climate risk. Access the guide here, or hear more from me on steps organisations can take now in this video interview. 

But on a more general level, it’s simpler than you may think to get the ball rolling on making real change. Here are some tips: 

  • Keep your house in order
  • Be transparent
  • Collaborate

Keep your house in order 

Before inspecting the state of our neighbour’s yard, let’s first take stock of our own. What steps has your organisation taken to reduce its footprint, and could it be doing more?  

Put your organisation’s strategy under the microscope and scrutinise the milestones that have been passed. Are there any figures that look too green to be clean?  

With ASIC taking aim at greenwashing, organisations that are not delivering on their green promises are in the regulatory spotlight. It is vital to the continued health of your organisation that any inconsistencies are being addressed right away. As we say at Governance Institute, if in doubt, disclose. 

Be transparent 

Due to the competitive nature of business, many are used to holding their cards close to their chest. If climate change has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together. 

If there is a strategy that is really working for you, celebrate it by sharing it. Empower your stakeholders, announce it to your shareholders, and make it accessible to your community.  

Collaborate 

Climate change is not going to be solved by one company, no matter how dedicated or innovative. Start a collaborative culture in your corporate neighbourhood. Reach out to each other and explore partnerships.  

Look into green pilot programs or trials to fund, as well as potential partners in your industry to disperse the investment risk. Even if your capacity to invest is limited, there is still a seat for you at this table. Pooling resources, strategies, and information, and collectively working towards a solution is the way forward. Just as the government needs to synchronise across each tier, so must organisations.  

Dealing with climate change is no longer an event we can postpone. Now is the time to unite and act. 

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