As representatives from 196 countries prepare to hash out a binding climate resolution in Paris this November to curb global warming, we have reason for hope.
This is not a naïve hope that countries will now put aside their economic self-interests in the name of a global accord, but rather a recognition that the gap between sovereign self-interest and the global good is narrowing.
That said, since the U.N. General Assembly first identified climate change as a “common concern of mankind” back in 1988, global emissions have risen from nearly 6 billion metric tons of carbon per year in the early 1990s to almost 10 billion metric tons today. The impact? The year 2014 was the warmest ever recorded, while the first six months of 2015 have been even hotter. (Source: NASA)
The stakes are high, the science clear, and the rationale and motivation for meaningful reductions as compelling as they are obvious, and yet we know that getting the COP21 accord needed to save the planet is still a long shot.
Consider the perspective of Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists: “No one doubts that coming out of Paris, there’s going to be an ambition gap on the table [the difference between what should be agreed upon and what will be agreed upon at the conference]. The question is going to be, what prospect do we have to shrink it, and how quickly?”
Based on our experience working with customers around the world, we know the answers to these questions can be “very good” and “very fast.” We’ve already seen this “ambition gap” efficiently and effectively closed by practical solutions.
Technology is a key solution to this problem.
We also know firsthand that these solutions for sustainability are scalable, reliable, and most importantly wanted. In an inspiring application of the maxim, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow,” commercial and industrial companies — among the world’s most resource-intensive businesses and largest emitters of greenhouse gases — are already embracing sustainability measures to ensure future success.
We know this, because we’ve helped them do it. We’ve seen sustainability take root in every geography, across industries, and even throughout our own global organization. With or without a binding accord in Paris, the trend for a sustainable future is already sweeping industries across the world.
Sustainability: A Growing Global Market
At Schneider Electric our sustainability mandate is all encompassing. We see a world where we can achieve more while using less of our common planet, and we are applying these principles to everything we make, everyone we serve, and every solution we implement. At Schneider Electric, we’re committed to providing innovative solutions that address the great energy paradox: balancing our planet’s carbon footprint and the indisputable right of everyone to quality energy. As the global specialist in energy management and automation, we create connected technologies that will reshape industries, transform cities, and enrich lives.
At Schneider, we call this Life Is On.
In the developing world, you’ll find Schneider Electric hard at work with our partners — through our Global Energy Access initiatives — to bring renewable energy to an estimated 1.1 billion people who currently live without access to electricity. You’ll also find us teaming with communities where access to power comes at too steep a price — up to 30% of an average household’s monthly income. By providing wider access to more affordable and greener energy, Schneider Electric is not only investing in an inclusive, sustainable future, we are also helping unlock the human capital of these under-served communities.
Closer to home, Schneider Electric is reshaping how consumers use and manage energy in their individual dwellings, bringing to market electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, solar panels, and inverters that help people monitor and manage their energy use more proactively and intelligently.
The company is also at the forefront of green product development and recycling. Its Green Premium eco-mark enables customers to calculate the carbon and reduce end-of-life decommissioning costs associated with Schneider products (e.g., variable speed drives, uninterruptible power systems and circuit breakers).
With sustainability informing all our products and services, Schneider is also at the vanguard of providing innovative and comprehensive sustainability solutions — encompassing hardware, software and services — to the most resource-intensive industries, sectors, and supply chains, including utilities, manufacturing, data centers, office buildings, and cities.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Which brings us back to COP 21 and the idea of “hope.”
We would welcome a meaningful climate accord resulting from the conference, one setting the world on a path to stay within the ceiling of 2 degrees C of warming suggested by scientists.
Perhaps, too, renewed calls for a Global Apollo Program to combat climate change might be answered, where the world’s best thinking and science, backed by big dollars, would be marshaled into solving global climate change with the same purpose and rigor that put a man on the moon.
But barring either event delivering the desired game-changing result, change is in the air. Today, sustainability is less a buzzword and more a successful business mantra for the new millennia.