Carbon War Room: Avoiding 2°C impossible without business

By John Parnell

The private sector is essential to meeting the 2°C target of warming, the threshold that scientists say would lead to dangerous climate change, according to influential NGO Carbon War Room.

With a number of policies from renewable energy rollouts, carbon trading to energy efficiency drives underway, the goal of remaining within the safe limit of warming as estimated by climate scientists is a long way off.

“The private sector is a, if not the, crucial element for this solution getting to scale,” says Peter Boyd from the Carbon War Room.

“The private sector’s role in getting within 2°C is essential. It’s a huge pivot in the economy, it’s a 99% shift in carbon intensity from the 768g we currently use to generate $1 of GDP to the 6g that we need to get to,” said Boyd, speaking to RTCC at the Rushlight Show‘s Sustainability Conference.

Business has a varied role in supporting climate action from supplying finance for clean energy projects and developing new technologies, to providing the skills, labour and materials to retro-fit buildings with energy efficiency products.

Established by Richard Branson, the Carbon War Room targets gigaton-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in a number of sectors including construction, shipping and aviation.

RTCC Video: Peter Boyd of the Carbon War Room calls the private sector “the white van” of climate action

Boyd says business already wants to tackle climate change with arguments that it is not economical failing to stack up.

“There’s a completely false choice that we have to choose between the economy in and the environment but doing things that are good for the environment is also good business,” he said.

With many governments from the UK to Mexico to South Korea making progress with their climate policy, there is now an urgency to turn good intentions into significant reductions, this where Boyd says business can take over.

“The private sector has to be the white van on the ground that’s fits this stuff, the blowtorch on the ship, the company that doesn’t chop down the tree and plant a new one instead. Every piece [of action] will largely involve a private company providing the solution on the ground.

“Policy is a necessary but insufficient condition to get things done whether it’s asking for the UK to come up with just what businesses needs or in terms of encouraging new technologies to come out of the universities.

“All those things exist for the private sector to create an awful lot of solution to reduce carbon and to create wealth for the company and a country as a whole.”

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