How can we step-up sustainability efforts in 2023?
In 2022 we lived through a year of geopolitical upheaval due to the war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis. As we enter 2023, we face the economic consequences of high inflation, higher interest rates, and the likelihood that a third of the world will enter a recession.
Governments around the world are focused on conflict resolution, recession response, and staying in power, which risks distracting them from delivering ambitious policies to tackle the climate crisis and other sustainability issues.
So 2023 is a time for businesses to step up more than ever and build on the momentum behind net zero and the shift to sustainable business models. Those with the vision and boldness to think long-term and accelerate plans to contribute to and prepare for a rapid global transition to a low GHG-emissions economy will emerge as the winners as economies recover and stability returns.
Below are Will Jenkins, Managing Director at Carbon Intelligence, part of Accenture’s predictions that sustainability leaders in businesses need to be ready for in 2023:
- Accelerated energy transition
- Businesses will be navigating through a new energy landscape where fossil fuel prices remain high and volatile, emphasising the importance of low carbon alternatives. Sky-high energy prices mean that pay-back times on projects are shorter, so this is a smart time to invest in clean energy solutions for power generation, heating, lighting and industrial processes.
- Impact on nature and biodiversity
- Businesses need to make sure a focus on the climate crisis doesn’t come at the expense of nature restoration and biodiversity. December’s biodiversity focused COP15 has fired the starting gun for a year when companies need to become familiar with Science Based Targets for Nature, and the recommendations from the Taskforce for Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD).
- Climate justice
- Businesses should make climate justice a priority in their net zero transition strategy. I’ve recently spent time in places that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and where clean drinking water only exists in plastic bottles and electricity comes from diesel generators. We must remember in the Global North just how far much of the world still has to come. Representation is key, so giving environmental justice groups and local people a seat at the table is vital.
- Climate resilience
- Climate-related risk will climb up the corporate agenda in 2023. Companies should plan for the impact of more extreme weather events and record breaking temperature changes, increased climate disclosure requirements, and a more litigious world where campaign groups will call out greenwashing and poor governance with legal challenges.
There are just seven years remaining to reach the Paris Agreement 2030 goal of cutting global GHG emissions by 45%. Now is the time to accelerate action, not allow events to derail it.