With COP27 ending last month in Egypt, the world’s attention has been laser-focused on the latest commitments from nation-states for solving humanity’s biggest challenge: climate change.
CO2 emissions are rising so quickly that concerns are growing that there is now a 50 per cent chance the world will cross a crucial climate change threshold sooner than expected, according to the UN’s latest figures.
In its report published by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) during this year’s COP conference, estimates based on monthly energy data show that global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 1 per cent this year. This is in stark contrast to a recent UN report that global emissions need to fall by 45 per cent by 2030 to keep temperatures below 1.5C.”
Harnessing innovation to regain climate lead
We are at a critical juncture and must now double down to get ahead of the curve on climate change, which will require not just will power and financing but innovation and new technologies.
Asia accounts for over 50 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, and its climate actions will critically determine whether the battle to avert extreme climate change will be won or lost. The Asia-Pacific Green Deal for Business, led by the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network, which seeks to deliver progress across five main pillars: green energy, infrastructure, finance, innovation, and the circular economy, is no doubt a timely intervention.
The role of SMEs in the pathway towards Net Zero
At COP27, it was clear to all stakeholders that sustainability is not just about government regulations and policies. In order to achieve real positive climate change, what is really needed is for all businesses, including those in the private sector, to take action and lead the way in accelerating the sustainability outcome
Sustainability has permeated into all aspects of supply chains today. In fact, many businesses have highly complicated supply chains that comprise an extensive network of MSMEs, all of whom contribute heavily to large corporates’ scope 3 emissions. As MSMEs represent 90 per cent of businesses globally, they are pivotal to economies worldwide.
Yet, with limited resources, many MSMEs today face high barriers in providing sustainability disclosures, especially with the complexity of self-disclosure questionnaires. This results in large corporates being unable to quantify their scope 3 emissions accurately, causing most of their emissions to reside in their supply chains. Financial institutions also face increased scrutiny on the sustainability impact of their portfolio companies which heavily rely on such supply chain emission measurements and reporting.
Enabling MSMEs to go green via the green deal for business and technology
Against this backdrop, a holistic programme harnessing the power of MSMEs to shape the future of sustainability is necessary.
This objective is to enable corporates, especially MSMEs, to embark on their sustainability journey and make commitments to the SDGs with the “Green Deal for Business” program, which enables them to initiate actions in this direction and provide data disclosures on a digital platform, which also enables them to retrieve insights on how to improve, with a comprehensive supporting ecosystem of various large corporates, financial institutions, and NGOs.
Technology can be leveraged by utilising a common Registry platform to help all corporates (including MSMEs) build their ESG profiles, make declarations and provide easily retrievable evidence to support their commitments. This could be based on a fit-for-purpose MSME questionnaire and digital tools to enable MSMEs disclosures, along with tailored guidance to increase environmental disclosure capacity. There are already examples of such implementation, e.g., ESGpedia, which is a common ESG Registry built by STACS in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Singapore and with an existing ecosystem of corporates and financial institutions, as well as the upcoming Net Zero Data Public Utility announced at COP27 by the Climate Data Steering Committee.
While policymakers play a central role in guiding businesses towards the SDGs, businesses are still critical stakeholders with the power and resources to make a difference. We believe that technology can drive greater impact to support the ESBN Asia-Pacific Green Deal for Business.
Ultimately, we need the ESBN Green Deal for Business and a scalable technology platform starting in Asia-Pacific but eventually scaled globally that allows businesses of all sizes across all sectors to transit towards sustainability and decarbonisation.
Finally, we must continue encouraging businesses to pledge support and adopt the Green Deal for Business as a go-to platform where they can easily, confidently reference universal ESG data that is verified, holistic, and transparent.
It is our hope that through collective efforts, we will truly make tangible positive effects towards reversing climate change and have a real shot at achieving the global net zero goals to safeguard our planet.