Imagine you are 95% sure that your house will burn down tomorrow. Would you get a fire insurance coverage? Scientists have been warning for many years that climate change is one of the greatest challenges humanity is facing. They are 95% sure that humans are the main drivers behind it. Yet politicians haven't bothered too much about properly covering the risk. An effort by some 120 heads of state to strike a global deal to protect the climate failed spectacularly in Copenhagen 2009.
But 2014 may be different. This year may well enter the history books as the turn-around for the fight against climate change. In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its Assessment Report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability - consequences of climate change will become very clear to the business community. And in September, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban-Ki Moon has invited heads of state to New York for a special summit, where a deal to cut the emissions of heat-trapping gases shall be brokered among governments.
A clear indicator of the importance of the topic is the World Economic Forum's 2014 upcoming Annual Meeting at Davos, where climate change features prominently on the program. Al Gore, Lord Nick Stern, Bill Gates, Ban-Ki Moon and many others debate political solutions ahead of the big summit.
In the mean time, for most of the global corporates, taking responsibility for the environment has become an integral aspect of the brand value. A great example is Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC. CEO Georges Kern, a World Economic Forum YGL, says: "Environmental awareness is integral to our corporate philosophy, and we see it as part of our corporate responsibility." Thanks to rigorous environmental management and ecologically sound building techniques IWC has been able to keep the energy consumed by in-house utilities constant over the past 11 years. This is all the more impressive when one considers that both production and the total useful area of the facilities have more than doubled in that time. This was achieved for example by optimum insulation of the buildings or by using residual heat in the town's sewage system as a source of energy.
Moreover, IWC compensates for emissions that cannot be entirely eliminated by making voluntary payments into innovative emission reduction projects from South Pole Carbon, thereby contributing additionally to poverty alleviation around the world - thus a cooperation between a YGL and a Schwab Social Entrepreneur has been created.
"The Reshaping of the World", thematic focus of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014, will hopefully apply to climate change this year. If global politicians and global brands walk the talk together, we may well save the house from burning down and leave it for many generations to enjoy.