Business exists and survives in society, which cannot work in a vacuum. It needs an environment. Companies also have a set of responsibilities towards all stakeholders.
The primary stakeholders are customers, employees, investors, supply chains, intermediaries, creditors and suppliers, and last but not least, the environment.
The pressure to act upon crucial environmental issues is growing, and businesses cannot ignore the environmental impact now.
It has been of utmost significance for a business to understand their bit. The most severe issue faced across the globe by different economies is climate change.
Climate change is a long-term change in the weather patterns across the planet due to various reasons like increased carbon emissions, deforestation, intensified agriculture and natural reasons.
To understand how and why let’s get into the article.
The article covers:
- Why is business held responsible for climate change?
- What is the impact of climate change??
- 20 Key words concerning climate change
Why is business held responsible for climate change?
It is estimated that almost 71% of emissions are just by the 100 energy companies across the globe.
Our current lifestyle is fueled by industrialisation, which in turn is driven by burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuel produces a significant amount of greenhouse gases, leading to sudden climate change.
As we can see from the below chart, the global average long term atmospheric concentration of CO2 has skyrocketed recently.
The impact of doing nothing poses an existential threat- an astronomical rise of tempooeratures between 4% to 5%.
UK parliament in June 2019 passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050.
This would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter by 2050, an aggressive but essential target. Before this, the UK was committed to reducing the same by at least 80% of their 1990 levels by 2050.
What is the impact on the business?
Apart from shouldering responsibility, the business must tackle the positive and negative impacts of climate change in its store. The detailed description in terms of risks & opportunities are as follows:
The risks are outnumbered, indicating the businesses to take it as a critical issue as it will affect every sector, be it automotive, tourism, energy, utilities or consumer goods. The extent could vary and is directly in sync with the set of stakeholders.
To manage the issue, there is also a need to understand it to the very depth. Below mentioned are specific key terms that every business must go through in respect of climate change.
Let’s get inside to know more.
20 Key climate change terms important for business
The most commonly used term in the dictionary of climate change is emissions which are harmful substances that are produced & sent into the environment, particularly carbon dioxide.
The emissions are increasing at a faster pace. The figure below underlines annual emissions by the UK up till the year 2019.
2. Greenhouse gases
These are the gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Popularly known as GHG, they absorb and emit energy within a specified range, causing a greenhouse effect.
The major ones are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These destroy the earth’s ozone layer, which shields the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV-B)
3. Global Average Temperature
It is an average over the entire surface of the planet in general. Even a one-degree change stands to be significant as it involves a vast amount of heat to warm the oceans, land and atmosphere.
Since 2014, years are getting warmer, and 2020 was categorised globally as the warmest year on record.
4. Carbon footprint
It refers to the gases emitted every year by a person, family, building, organisation and company.
5. Kyoto Protocol
The Protocol was adopted in the year 1997 and entered in the year 2005. One hundred ninety-two countries agreed to be a part of the treaty to bring forward the mission of reduction of greenhouse gases. The Protocol applies to certain specified gases.
6. Net zero
Net Zero is quite a familiar term that indicates the difference between the greenhouse gases produced and removed from the atmosphere.
It is a target to achieve balance. Carbon neutrality is also the term used for it in general. The UK is looking forward to gaining a net-zero target by 2050.
It is the triatomic form of oxygen which is highly reactive and leads to serious health issues by directly attacking the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system. It is an artificial as well as a natural product that exists in the atmosphere.
8. Paris Agreement
The agreement was finalised during the COP 21 held in the year 2015 and adopted by 196 parties. The countries under this agreement are expected to submit their plan towards climate actions under nationally determined contributions. The primary goal is to reduce global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
9. Renewable Energy
It is the form of energy generated from natural sources like sunlight, wind, rain and geothermal heat. These sources are generally looked upon as the primary reliever of climate change as they emit zero carbon dioxide. Renewables have the power to supply four-fifths of the world’s electricity by 2050 if managed efficiently.
These were European Union goals for 2020 to focus on a 20% increase in energy efficiency, 20% reduction of carbon dioxide and 20% renewable energy usage.
11. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
They are commonly known as UNFCC, signed by 154 countries against climate change in 1992. The primary focus of the treaty is to stabilise gas concentrations.
The yearly conferences conducted are known as Conference Of the Parties (COP) to assess the country’s effort in this direction.
COP 26 is to be held in November in Glasgow, UK.
12. Anthropogenic climate change
The theory of anthropologic climate change suggests that climate change is caused primarily by human activity, also called artificial climate change, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels in general.
13. Climate sensitivity
Climate sensitivity is the change in the planet’s temperature due to change in the climate change system.
It is testing the instability that arises due to radiative forcing. Thus, it proves to be an essential measure of climate science. The two types of sensitivity are shorter-term (transient response) and higher term.
(Equilibrium climate sensitivity).
14. Climate change committee
It is a statutory body set up as an advisory body under the Climate Change Act 2008.
It advises the UK government on the accomplishment of its emission targets. In addition, the committee regularly monitors the progress and analyses climate science in sync with organisations across the country.
15. Climate neutrality
It is the state of achieving zero carbon emissions or a minimum carbon emission at a large scale. The gases released are thereafter avoided to achieve the desired shape. Thus, it is taken both as a challenge and an opportunity by the countries.
It considers the fuels that an individual burns directly as well indirectly in the form of gases. The average carbon footprint per year in the UK is around 12.7 tonnes.
16. Climate Change Performance Index
The index aims to evaluate 57 countries and the European Union on the ground of emissions. They all together are responsible for more than 90 per cent of global greenhouse gases. United Kingdom was ranked 5th in the CCPI 2021 as the country took sizeable efforts in the direction after its Brexit.
17. Clean coal technology
The technology is an innovative measure to enhance both efficiency and acceptability of coal extraction processes to provide significant economic, environmental and health benefits. The reduction in emissions proves to be an innovative aspect.
The harsh effects are reduced up to some extent. In addition, many developing countries use coal as a fuel for industries. Thus, this technology may turn out to be helpful in the long run.
18. Fuel switching
It is the practice of replacing inefficient fuels with cleaner options leading to a substantial reduction in energy consumption and costs. It also helps to tackle the issue of carbon emissions too.
19. Global Warming and Climate Change
People use these terms interchangeably, but they differ in meanings.
Global warming is a temperature rise, while climate change is a change in the earth’s climate, which leads to variations in snow level, high sea level or higher temperature.
20. Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC)
IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations that provides regular assessments on climate change to hint into the risks and challenges lying ahead.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it publishes the requisite scientific, technical and socio-economical information and its possible impacts. However, no original research is carried on; only secondary data is analysed to give valuable insights.
21. Ozone-depleting substances
The substances responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer are classified as ozone-depleting substances. The prominent ones are CFCs, halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, HCFCs, methyl bromide and bromochloromethane.