25 October 2016
Some cars in China are equipped with solar panels. Photo: Xinhua
Some cars in China are equipped with solar panels. Photo: Xinhua

Business has vital role in tackling climate change

If everybody goes about their business, and if the challenge of climate change is left unchecked, the average global temperature will rise by 4 degrees Celsius during this century.

We will feel the implications in Hong Kong just as much as everyone else, if not more.

The Third National Climate Change Assessment Report, prepared by 550 experts, reports that the temperature along China’s coast has been rising faster than the global average.

Rising temperatures will cause more extreme weather, natural disasters, frequent storms, flooding and unprecedented droughts – challenges to economies, cities and communities everywhere.

Industry sectors, from agriculture to finance, energy, infrastructure and manufacturing, have already started to work toward a low-carbon future to overcome these challenges.

And a rising generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and startups understands the way forward is to design for positive environmental and social impact.

Climate change cannot be solved by one country or government alone.

It is a systemic challenge that requires creativity, imagination and innovation across the private and government sector and the public at large.

An important first step is the adoption of the Paris agreement during the Conference of Parties, COP21, in December.

So far, 188 countries have submitted to the United Nations their plans — called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – to reduce greenhouse gases.

This covers about 99 percent of global emissions.

Now, countries need to ratify the agreement and commit to their respective INDCs.

More needs to be done. The INDCs alone will not get us close enough to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees.

Business worldwide has a vital role to play.

The We Mean Business coalition invites companies to commit to seven climate initiatives that enable a low-carbon future.

Already, 554 companies and investors have committed to taking action

Startups, entrepreneurs, pioneers and innovators with the vision to create positive environmental or social impact have an incredible opportunity to be part of addressing climate change.

A rising generation of empowered entrepreneurs are collaborating, designing and building solutions that can disrupt entire industries – something that was unthinkable only a few years ago. 

Startup companies often conceptualize some of the greatest ideas but often lack the tools to execute them or realize them to their fullest potential.

With a lower barrier to some of the industry’s best tools, these innovators can imagine, design and create their ideas at a fraction of the time and cost and so bring innovations to the market for positive environmental and social impact.

One example is a young Chinese startup: Pionovision aims to bring solar power to millions of families through its unique solar cloth and thin-film technology.

The company started in 2014, and since then has implemented various solar projects, supporting many off-grid communities.

Recently it helped a school in a remote area in Hebei province; now students can use lights, water purifiers and computers.

Actions like these are starting to build momentum toward a low-carbon future.

A study published in the scientific journal Nature shows a negative correlation between rising temperatures and worker productivity – the higher the temperature, the lower the worker productivity.

Lack of action will lead to global decline.

Governments and businesses have it in their hands to address climate change and invest in the right solutions for social and environmental benefits.

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Director, Global Cleantech and Entrepreneur Impact, Autodesk

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