Earlier this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) handed down a report that was originally commissioned back in 2016 calling for ‘unprecedented changes’ to combat the effects of global warming. The report stated categorically that consequences like coral bleaching and, melting ice and rising sea levels are inevitable, but the severity of these impacts can be curbed. It concluded by stating the differences that a 1.5 ºC, rather than a 2.0 ºC increase in temperature will have on the world’s weather patterns and localized ecosystems.
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1ºC of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.” Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I said.
Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II elaborated: “Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.”
The report emphasized the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adding that it is indeed possible to curb our current trajectory, with the right systems in place.
“Limited warming to 1.5 ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes” the IPCC said.
Those unprecedented changes are exactly what a system like ISO14001 is constantly asking you to make in your own small-scale operations. While it may be ‘unprecedented’ to switch over from the grid to something like solar power, making the change will also usher in an unprecedented change to the sustainability, attractiveness and marketability of your company.
Applying this logic on much larger scale, the IPCC is asking the same of sovereign nation states… although the stakes are much, much larger. This becomes particularly challenging for nations like Norway, Russian and especially Australia that have a resource-based economy. Utilizing the lessons learnt from implementing a system like ISO14001 in your business is possible way for governments to lessen their environmental footprint, whilst maintaining their efficiency and profitability.
The framework provided by a system like ISO14001 doesn’t necessarily lessen your footprint immediately, it’s puts an onus of responsibility on your shoulders to implement systems that will lessen your footprint; exactly what countries are going to have to do to meet increasingly stringent emission-goals every decade. More importantly, it’s a system rooted in the belief that nothing is perfect, and improvements can always be made.
On a macro scale, we’d like to think the same applies to nation states that are attempting to reduce our emission levels. After receiving the report, nations should map the findings and predictions in their raft of statistics, and refer back to these as they track their performance in the coming years. If greenhouse gas emissions aren’t falling at the rate stipulated by the IPCC, a country might have to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their ISO14001 plan, and implement new processes to curb the rate of emissions.