RSK’s Climate Realities series explores the wide-ranging repercussions of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports across our global business. In the first insight of the series, RSK Chief Scientist and Managing Director of the RSK Centre for Sustainability Excellence Lucy Thomas reacts to the findings of the latest IPCC reports that set out the full scale of the climate crisis and reflects on what it means for the future of our global business as we respond to the many challenges on the ground.
It feels like there has never been a more important time to focus on sustainable business. The IPCC’s latest reports bring home the grim realities of the climate crisis. On the release of the second instalment of the IPCC’s sixth Assessment Report (AR6), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said, “Climate change isn’t lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce, it’s already upon us, raining down blows on billions of people,” and she made it clear that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and massively increase our efforts to adapt to climate change.
Her sobering words were backed up by the findings of the recently released third instalment of the report, which gives a stark warning on the need to tackle the climate crisis within the narrow remaining window of time if we are to avoid potentially catastrophic warming impacts. Against the gloom, the report does also provide us with some hope. It is not yet too late, and it provides a clear set of actions to reduce global emissions, protect vital habitats and invest in low-carbon, carbon capture and storage technologies to keep warming within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels. It is now up to each and every one of us to respond, and I believe that business has a key role to play in leading the charge towards a global, low-carbon economy.
As a global leader in sustainable solutions, RSK is well-positioned to support businesses as they transition towards a net zero economy in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the 2015 Paris Agreement on keeping warming below 2 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels. Over the last five years we have grown significantly and now have over 150 businesses working together to deliver practical solutions that help address these huge global challenges and have established leading centres of research to develop cutting-edge solutions globally.
As a responsible and sustainable business, RSK works across sectors to help clients manage and monitor their environmental and social impacts while adapting to a changing climate and improving their climate resilience. We provide end-to-end, resilience-focused climate services, including greenhouse gas and climate risk assessment and management; renewable system planning, design and management; and the development of circular economy processes and solutions. We understand the importance of biodiversity to a sustainable future and our extensive landscape and ecology offerings can leverage the adaptive power of nature-based solutions to create resilient and flexible buildings, estates and neighbourhoods. We are experts in delivering climate solutions and we support our clients in reporting and communicating their actions to stakeholders. We are also committed to addressing our own business impacts and reporting on our progress.
In addition to leading research and development and consultancy services, the unique nature of our end-to-end integrated offering means that we are often responding to the realities of the climate crisis “on the ground”. This might involve our businesses responding to flood incidents or repairing storm damage to trees, buildings and infrastructure or cleaning up pollution from such . Further mitigation measures include wetland restoration, which utilises innovative nature-based solutions to protect and maintain our water environments.
Most recently, we have have launched our Centre for Sustainability Excellence in Singapore, which I am immensely proud of. The centre will support the acceleration of sustainability action globally by delivering services across climate and sustainability strategy, renewable energy, digital water and sustainable agriculture, underpinned by a research institute that works in partnership with leading universities.
We continue to seek businesses to join us that can help expand our capability to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the emerging climate, biodiversity and water crises, and so deliver impact against the UN SDGs. To demonstrate our position as a responsible business of today, we are going beyond setting targets, having been granted with our funding partner Ares. By meeting the given environmental, social and governance key performance indicators, RSK will incur a significant interest saving and will reinvest this saving into . This means that the success of our business is tied to the impact we have on the planet and its people.
As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres notes, the latest IPCC report “sets out viable, financially sound options in every sector that can keep the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5°C alive.” Business must take this opportunity and governments must scale up investment in mitigation and adaptation to support green growth. In this “Climate Realities” series, I want to demonstrate the breadth of RSK’s involvement in responding to the global challenges of the climate crisis as well as showcasing some of our excellent work in finding the opportunities as we accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.
The stakes for our planet have never been higher. And the time to make changes is now.
RSK has recognised and championed the importance of environmental and social sustainability since its inception over 30 years ago. Our corporate strategy and Sustainability Route Map, overseen by our board of directors, define our commitment to promoting ethics and sustainability in all that we do and set clear milestones so we always keep improving.