Climate Change and CSR
"Between Growing Public Expectations and a Lack of Global Response", Perspectives from Israel and Germany
16.7.2014 – CLB, Ramat Gan, Israel
Civil society expectations ("license to operate") vs. corporations responsive strategies (Corporate Social Responsibility) in face of growing climate change impact
On September 27th 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its fifth Assessment Report stating that "human influence on the climate system is clear". The report also concludes that warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many unprecedented changes have been observed throughout the climate system. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. As for the future, the report projects that the global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C to 2°C relative to 1850 to 1900. Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the earth warms and extreme weather events are on the rise, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less.
In face of these alarming perspectives, two complementary patterns of action are required: adaptation to climate change and mitigation of the greenhouse effect. Adaptation is the effort to adapt or prepare for the various ramifications of climate change at ecological, economic and/or social levels. Mitigation is the overall effort to mitigate climate change by addressing its source, e.g. reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It may be by global climate agreements as the Kyoto Protocol and by country obligations to reduce GHG emissions, on a corporate or even on an individual level.
Climate Change and CSR
Despite huge efforts, the last UN conferences on climate change have been unsuccessful in concluding an binding global GHG reduction scheme. This lack of global governance on climate change has lead mostly to sporadic and uneven efforts by national governments to reduce their emissions. The Israeli government has even cancelled recently a national plan to reduce GHG emissions, contrary to its public commitment in the 2009 Copenhagen Summit. Germany, while phasing out nuclear energy and expanding the use of renewable energies, has recently seen a rise in its use of brown coal for energy production and therefore expects an increase in its greenhouse gas emissions.
As a result, the business sector is finding itself between the hammer – a lack of a clear governmental guidance – and the anvil – growing societal expectations to act more responsibly. Some corporations have been undertaking highly publicized voluntary initiatives as part of their mitigation efforts, but their contribution to the total reduction of GHG emissions has been rather marginal.
Undoubtedly, the consequences of climate change will affect all economic sectors. For example, the pharmaceutical industry should prepare itself for a different global expansion of pandemics and diseases; the insurance industry should expect mass compensation claims in the face of future natural disasters; the food industry should expect a sharp rise in the prices of commodities and of production, and so on. Above all of these, governments will have to maintain the basic safety conditions and provisions of life of their citizens.
The symposium will focus on the global phemomenon of climate change and the rights and obligations as well as volontary steps of corporations in order to adapt to climate change on the one hand and to help to mitigate further global warming on the other. At the centre of this, German and Israeli perspectives will be presented. The symposium will host corporate executives, leading academic researchers and committed regulators from Germany and Israel.
The goal of the symposiom is to bring climate change and its implications for the business sector to the awareness of the public and decision makers by creating a public discussion event with expert’s perspectives and manager’s modes of implementation.
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IPCC site – http://www.ipcc.ch/index.htm#.Um0F0vmGqvU