Whether it’s an athlete trying to outperform his rival on the playing field, or a tech giant trying to develop the latest mobile phone and dominate the market, competition and self-reliance can drive innovation and success.
However, when it comes to the environment and climate change, things are different.
As COP26 approaches, calls for an approach focused on working together towards a common goal of keeping emissions low and developing plans to tackle the challenges our planet will face in the years and decades to come are becoming louder every day.
There are always exceptions, and getting people to find common ground is very difficult, but the emphasis on collaboration is starting to spread to politics, civil society and business.
Thierry Delaporte is the CEO of Wipro, which describes itself as an “information technology, consulting and business process” firm.
During a recent discussion moderated by CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick, Delaporte highlighted the need for different parties to work together. “The reality is that no company can tackle the climate crisis alone,” he said.
“To really have a big impact and really bring … real results to zero, we need to standardize [a] a clean zero approach to ensure effective and efficient progress, ”he explained.
Delaporte also talked about the need for good relationships between governments and firms.
“It should be… companies of all sizes and all sectors around the world will find it much easier to move towards a clean zero future,” he said.
“Communication with… other companies, the ecosystem, communication and cooperation with the administrations in the respective countries is absolutely essential to achieve… significant results.”
During the discussion, Adair Turner, Chairman of the Energy Transition Commission, emphasized the importance of the relationship between government and business.
“There is an endless iterative process between government setting a framework, setting, for example, carbon prices, setting rules that make it clear what the private sector will have to respond to,” he said.
Turner went on to flesh out his argument, explaining that the private sector would then do what it does, namely cost reduction and innovation, to achieve those goals at the lowest cost.
“This is a process that never ends, but it must include both decisive action from the government and decisive action from the private sector, including from the financial sector – asset managers, banks, etc.”
One example of climate-related collaboration is the Science Goals Initiative or SBTi, a partnership between WWF, the World Resources Institute, CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) and the United Nations Global Compact.
The latter’s CEO and CEO, Sanda Ojiambo, explained to CNBC how SBTi leveraged the strengths of the four organizations.
Leading companies “are setting emission reduction targets in line with the latest advances in climate science from SBTi,” she said.
Earlier this year, SBTi released a progress report for 2020. Among other things, it looked at the emission reductions of 338 firms, which he said have “established science-based targets.”
“The 338 companies in our analysis together reduced their annual emissions by 25% between 2015 and 2019 – a difference of 302 million tonnes, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 78 coal-fired power plants,” the report says.
For Ojiambo, communicating information to progress is a critical tool.
“It was really important to demonstrate that progress has been made towards the science-based goals,” she said.
“It is important for us to have a standard, and it is important not only to raise ambition, but also to make sure that actions are based on science and we can track and measure this progress.”