The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy
The climate crisis is not just governments’ problem to solve
An existential climate crisis threatens to rewrite the rules of human survival, and it is now no longer a question of whether the private sector should play a role in climate action—it is a matter of how much and how swiftly.
As we stride towards the COP28 climate talks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December 2023, we have a golden opportunity to reframe the narrative of climate change from one of despair to one of hope and action. Now, more than ever, is the time for corporations to step forward, to wield their power and to shape our world for the better.
Businesses, often vilified for the climate crisis, are fast becoming its unsung heroes. From technology titans developing artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise energy use to food companies championing regenerative business models, the private sector is showing us that the path to sustainability need not be paved with sacrifice but can instead be a journey of innovation and prosperity.
The idea that “green” and “growth” must be mutually exclusive is rapidly becoming an antiquated notion—in recognising the environmental impact of their operations, corporations are embracing the opportunities that a green transition offers. To many, these practices are not just the morally right choice but, now, financially viable ones.
By catalysing action, global events like COP empower the private sector to actively reshape our planet. These events have highlighted the remarkable progress made by organisations committed to combatting climate change, proving that meaningful change is not just an aspiration but a tangible reality.
I was recently on the jury panel of the Zayed Sustainability Prize (ZSP)—an award which supports small to worldwide medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and high schools with impactful and innovative sustainable projects—and saw first-hand how these initiatives can bring about real change through the private sector regardless of the scale.
As we approach COP28 in the UAE, it is up to us to harness the full potential of the private sector, turning the wheels of industry towards the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. We need to cultivate an environment where businesses can thrive while ensuring the planet continues to flourish.
To do this, we must advocate for policies that reward sustainable practices, develop frameworks to measure and disclose climate risk and foster collaboration between governments, NGOs and businesses. Only then can we unlock the private sector’s immense potential to drive meaningful and lasting change.
The key point is that the climate crisis is not just a problem for governments to solve. It is a global challenge that requires the active participation of all sectors of society, including the private sector.
We must harness this momentum to unite, mobilise the strength and creativity of businesses globally, and propel forward our shared goal of a sustainable future. We must unleash the full force of industry to build a world that is not only resilient and sustainable but also prosperous, inclusive and fair for all.
As we stand at this critical juncture, our actions today will shape the judgment of history. Our legacy must be marked by meaningful transformation and unwavering resilience.
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