Time for businesses to step up: why COP26 leaders must turn to the corporate world for help

- October 21, 2021

In the countdown to the UN Climate Change Conference, CEO of 3stepIT and BNP Paribas 3 Step IT, Carmen Ene, shares her thoughts on the task ahead for global leaders and why they must lean on the business community in this hour of need. This is the third and final of a series of blogs on the topic.

 

Private enterprise has long been a hotbed for innovation. Tech inventions often begin in the cradle of entrepreneurs and, when proven, are adopted at scale by governments and institutions around the world. And when business wants change or progress, big things happen – even putting humans back in space again.

It is likely that solutions to climate change will also emanate from the private sector, and now more than ever we need the weight of their ideas, funding and action.

This has not been lost on COP26 leaders who are set to convene in Glasgow in the coming weeks. At the gathering of the G7 in June, COP26 President Alok Sharma said, “In the fight against climate change, it is vital that we have the ingenuity, influence and energy of the private sector on our side.” 

Corporate contribution to the climate cause needn’t be purely motivated by supporting the global good either - the 215 biggest global companies report almost US$1 trillion at risk from climate impacts, according to charity CDP. Yet in 2018 private funding accounted for only 18.5% of finance directed towards addressing climate impact – not nearly enough given the scale of the contribution and exposure to risk.

But the increasing urgency of the climate crisis has stirred action from top corporates. In the lead up to the COP26 Summit, there has been a 47% increase in companies joining the UN’s ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which calls on business to commit to reaching net-zero by 2050. At 3stepIT, we’ve made our own net zero pledge, committing to a zero-carbon future for our company by 2035.

But we all know pledges are not enough – it’s action that is needed. As part of the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, businesses are being asked to showcase scalable solutions to achieve net zero. One area that is often overlooked is our consumption of technology. An estimated 1.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions is caused by the manufacture and running of digital technologies and this predicted to double by 2025.

It’s clear a more sustainable approach to technology is urgently needed and businesses needn’t wait for direction for government before adopting a greener approach. We advocate using technology-as-a-service, where devices are procured, managed, and then repaired and re-used, rather than hitting landfill after their first lifecycle.

At 3stepIT, we now have more than 2.2 million devices under management and last year, we processed more than half a million IT devices through our refurbishing centres. 98% of devices returned to us at the end of contract were resold, demonstrating how, together with our customers, we’re making a significant contribution to the race to zero.

Not every business can put a man on the moon or fund global climate change efforts. But every business can make a simple switch to more sustainable business practices that will have a huge impact on our planet.

 

So, as COP26 leaders gather to discuss how we move forward in a more sustainable way, they must be sure to bring business to the table. As global, corporate citizens we must take responsibility for our impact and use our influence, ideas, operations and capital to work towards a greener future. Governments must ensure they are pulling all the necessary policy leavers to make that happen.

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