The Green wave in the EU Elections puts climate change front and centre on the Boardroom agenda.
The re-emergence of the Green Party in Ireland and Europe on the back of very favourable EU Election results indicates that climate change is a real concern for all voters, especially the young.
This result has been fuelled by the attendance of the broadcaster David Attenborough at Davos where he was there to promote the need to address climate change. The incredibly confident climate activist Greta Thunberg (a 17 year old Swedish girl) was also there to promote climate activism. This has been followed around the world by demonstrations by school children around the world (and more recently in Ireland) calling out governments and politicians to get real about climate change.
In fact “a national climate change plan submitted by the Government to the EU Commission is “way off track” in meeting targets, according the EU’s leading climate change NGO” according to a recent Irish Times Report.
Climate Action Network Europe evaluated national energy and climate plans (NECPs) submitted to Brussels for approval by 24 member states. It concludes Ireland’s plan “is way off track with its greenhouse gas emission reductions in sectors such as transport, buildings, waste and agriculture… both for 2020 and 2030”. So the Irish Government and others have work to do.
This is a wake up a call not only for governments but also for companies, as ultimately they will be a contributor to achieving these targets.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was quoted in the Financial Times of 25 May 2019 stating that “ “We figured out that nobody cares about climate change, because this is something that’s going to happen in 20 year’s time. And today as we speak, 19,000 people are going to die because of pollution”
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor in the UK, said he would consider changing the law if necessary to force UK-listed firms to take adequate steps to fight the “climate emergency” facing the planet.
In an interview with the Guardian, McDonnell said much of the City was already aware of the need to make faster progress towards a zero-carbon economy, but his proposals were about “weeding out those that are not taking it seriously”.
“It’s not about threatening or penalising, it’s saying here’s the steps we need to take to save the planet”, he said.
So this is all part of a ground swell of opinion which companies need to take account by having climate change targets that are relevant to their situation.
These targets need to be embedded in their strategic plans which need to be agreed and monitored by their boards.
Those companies that can demonstrate that they are serious about this issue are more likely to be appealing recruitment destinations for a younger generation that want to live in a world that will not only survive, but will be worth living in. Customers will take the same view.
So boards need to step up to the mark and treat this subject with the seriousness that it deserves before it is too late.