By Fida Kibbi, Vice President and Head of Marketing, Communications and Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson Middle East and Africa
During COP27, that took place in Egypt, world leaders have grappled over what must be done to curb global warming. Seven years ago, world leaders signed an international treaty to limit global warming to well below 2°C. Nonetheless, efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The ramifications and severity of climate change vary depending on where you live. Given its geography, the impact of climate change has been noticeable across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region with devastating consequences including the floods in Pakistan, Nigeria, droughts in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and the wildfires in Turkey as a few examples to mention.
Climate change needs to be seen as a critical matter and dealt with in the same manner as a pandemic. The actions we take today will determine the scale and impact of the ramifications. In treating it as a pandemic, we must remember some of the lessons and act accordingly. A key lesson is that collaboration is key to making a difference and we must deal with this challenge in an ecosystem driven approach.
An Ecosystem Concerted and Sustained Approach
a. Governments: governments play a key role in defining the nation’s agenda to address the climate challenge by defining policies that will help drive sustainability and reduce activities that endanger the planet. Regulations in various sectors will ensure adherence and create actionable outcomes. Some nations across the MEA region have addressed the climate challenge by making it front and center on their national agendas, setting ambitious clean energy targets for the coming decades and implementing initiatives to control emissions and increase energy efficiency. It was very inspiring to hear about those initiatives and plans at COP27 in Egypt and as nations across the regions are gearing up as well for COP 28 which is set to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates next year. Having the Middle East hosting the global leading forum is a testament to the region's ambition to play a more decisive role in the climate crisis.
b. Organizations: Organizations, no matter how big or small, define how their operations and value chains impact climate change and what they can do to mitigate the effects. At Ericsson, we have prioritized the elimination of sources of greenhouse gas emissions within our own activities and value chain which follows a 1.5°C reduction trajectory as part of our Net Zero target for 2040. Organizations need to take a bold step in investing in digitalization. This will help reduce carbon emission as well as drive efficiency in every sector of the economy.
c. Individuals: Individual’s responsibility and dedication are critical in addressing climate change concerns. Decisions such as choosing to invest pension funds in organizations that are environmentally responsible will put pressure on providers to help fight the climate crisis. Cutting down on business travel is another good example of how companies and individuals can make an impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Leverage Technology and Innovations
Technology can play a major role in supporting global climate action. These could include solutions that help various sectors manage their emissions and data driven insights that can help make informed decisions affecting climate. At Ericsson, our 5G technology is supporting industrial sectors such as energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, towards a low-carbon economy.
In the coming years, connectivity and advanced technologies will play a key role in transitioning the region to a more knowledge and service-based economies. Technology will also help the region in effectively monitoring, measuring and delivering sustainability initiatives while accelerating the growth of renewable energy and enabling the energy transition.
Private and Public Partnership and Commitment
Partnerships between the private and public sectors with a common goal and purpose can help advance climate action. In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, Ericsson has partnered with stakeholders, including governments, agencies, the international community, and research institutions, in our various markets, to find lasting solutions to climate change. In some countries across Africa, we partnered with our customers to find innovative solutions that address environmental sustainability. Ericsson contributed to the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap report launched at the Global Climate Action Summit 2018. The report shows the potential for all sectors to halve greenhouse gas emissions by around 2030 leveraging connectivity and advanced technology.
Anticipate Multidimensional Impact
Similar to the pandemic, climate change has a multidimensional impact. It has the power to derail the progress we have made in sustainable development, further deepen the economic divide, and harshly affect the marginalized in society. Understanding the worst-case scenario will help us address the challenge effectively.
In summary, the fight against climate change cannot be won alone. It will require collaboration of the entire ecosystem while the use of technology and innovation across all sectors of society, along with the proper policy direction and specific solutions, to achieve a 1.5°C future target. We need to think of climate change as a looming pandemic. Our individual actions today and the interventions by all stakeholders will determine its scale and impact. We have the power to drive this change, and we must act with urgency!