Reflections from COP24

It's was an interesting week at what was perhaps the most important UN conference since the Paris 2015 deal.

Reflections from COP24

In October, the IPCC report put in stark terms how quickly we need to act to avoid catastrophic climate change and although it sits at the most ambitious end of the Paris Agreements, the report showed the radical action needed was both feasible and affordable. Frustratingly, the findings were not recognised at the conference but at least the report itself was, which provides some consolation. 

We have long known that businesses can take the lead in illustrating the opportunities presented by climate action, and seeing multiple industries signing their own ambitious plans at the conference was evidence of that. Look at how the renewable energy market has changed since the launch of RE100. And BT has reached a great milestone in this space.  We now use 96% renewable electricity worldwide.  And with our recent pledge to the EV100 group, we hope to see the same progress in the electric vehicle market. 

It is important for business to have support for ambitious climate goals from policymakers. It drives faster action across the entire business community and that reinforces our own efforts, allowing us to make further and faster progress. Thankfully, the conference has led to a common rulebook, which will allow businesses to be nimble and drive through important market shifting policies.

And let’s not forget supply chains. Companies need to start addressing their supply chain emissions, as for many companies this is the by far largest carbon impact they have.  So let’s talk to our suppliers about climate action – about science-based targets, renewable electricity and having less environmental impact.

Time has come for action and we saw from the energized groups at CoP just how badly they want to hear about what is being implemented. At BT, we have plenty of examples of this to share.  Our energy savings initiatives have saved us over £250m since 2009/10.  The revenues from our products that help people and companies avoid carbon emissions were at £5.3bn last year – 22% of BT’s total revenues. It was also encouraging to see the UK’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announce the UK’s desire to host CoP in 2020, enforcing the UK’s desire to remain a leader in clean tech and green finance.

We can’t underestimate the good that’s done by having the opportunity to meet at this conference, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. With a common rulebook in place, we need to take the opportunity to inspire others by our actions and show what is possible. That being said, we now need to see ambitious climate goals from policymakers. And let’s hope many more join us on this journey.

BT at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum

BT’s head of sustainable business policy Gabrielle Giner will appear at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum to discuss how the company is aligning itself with a 1.5C trajectory through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), along with speakers from Carlsberg and Tesco. 

Taking place 5 & 6 February 2019 at the Building Design Centre, London, the two-day event will also include discussions surrounding the best way to reduce your organisation’s supply chain emissions. 

For more information and to register for the Forum, click here.

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