Innovations hold the key to climate action

Oil heads, climate activists from the Ocean Rebellion group, demonstrate outside the INEOS integrated refinery and petrochemicals centre plant in Grangemouth, Scotland, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference on Tuesday. PHOTO | AFP

There is always the best chance to do something and the optimum time to resolve the climate crisis so that we make the globe a better place for the present and future generations. Climate change is real. Human actions have greatly contributed to this hazard, and unfortunately, mankind will be the worst hit by it in the coming days.

Fortunately, humans still retain the capacity to deal with it before it hits hardest. This is a collaborative effort, with both State and non-State actors, corporate and even individuals having a paramount role to play to resolve the negative impacts of climate change.

This week, world leaders are gathering in Glasgow for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise called Conference of Parties (COP26), to discuss how they are going to tackle climate change.

Top on the agenda will be securing global net-zero and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach as well as supporting those most vulnerable to climate change. They will also discuss how to accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

The world is watching to see the deliberations that will define how the world is going to be saved from the climate change menace.

Closer home in Kenya, corporate leaders will next week gather for the Corporate Commitment on Climate Change and Sustainability (4C- Kenya) conference that is organised by the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre and KCIC Consulting in collaboration with Kepsa and KAM.

The conference that is supported by IKEA Foundation and The Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSD Kenya) rallies together private sector leaders to champion action against climate change. Like I have written before, the private sector holds a key role in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It offers opportunities and risks to the private sector and hence, a collaborative approach to addressing it will be expedient.

While these two events meet to formulate postulations that ought to be applied by all and sundry in the near future, they need to be cognizant of some of the elements that should constitute their consultations. Climate-smart innovations especially around businesses will be key in this discussion.

Entrepreneurs need to embed climate action into the DNA of their operations so that, besides making a profit, they will also make an impact on the environment and also create some level of social impact.

We are transitioning from a realm of businesses having their dominant ideologies zeroed down to income generation and incorporating the sustainability aspect, which also comprises looking at the impact the business is creating, not only around social welfare but also to the climate of the region. This factor will determine the likelihood of the business’ survival in the coming days.

In the course of COP26, in the African Pavilion, 10 businesses who have incorporated climate adaptation and resilience in their operations will be feted as part of the Youth Adapt Challenge that will award them with grants and incubation and acceleration support for one year so that they increase their profitability and impact.

This is part of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme by the Global Centre on Adaptation and AfDB that needs to be lauded for recognising the need to support climate-smart entrepreneurship. This challenge that is being implemented by KCIC Consulting received an overwhelming response in terms of interest with more than 2,000 applications coming in from 46 African countries.

This is encouraging because it shows that businesses are gradually noticing the need to incline towards climate action. Like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, climate change is not only a menace but also provides numerous opportunities for the private sector.

The private sector needs to reinvent itself and come up with innovative solutions that will not only move their businesses to the next level but also help them tap into the opportunities that lie waiting within climate adaptation as well as mitigation.

New and tested technologies will be useful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also helping humanity to adapt to the now evident changes in the climate. Pundits have argued that while it may seem to be costly, continuous investment in climate-smart innovations has an overall low cost and will be needed to meet global climate goals.

Businesses that will successfully become innovative as well as the organisations that will support them, including financing institutions, will end up outperforming their peers and securing long-term value and competitive advantage by moving swiftly towards a better future. There are many scenarios for decarbonising the globe, but innovative businesses will remain to be the pacesetters in the best-case scenario.

This article was first published on Business Daily

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