Impact of the pandemic on businesses’ commitment to environmental sustainability and climate change issues
The ongoing climate change is one of the driving forces for the activities carried out within the framework of sustainable development. Environmental protection, ecology and the impact of climate change are being discussed more and more often since the effects of climate change are visible in every country . Intensive economic development has contributed to a 50% higher greenhouse gas emission than in 1990, which strongly influences global warming. This warming is a real threat to the socio-economic system because it brings about severe consequences like increased ocean temperatures, which negatively influence the aquatic organisms or forces changes in viticulture techniques that are needed to adapt to the changing climate, which is mostly visible in the Mediterranean zone [2-4]. Some of the most known impacts of climate change are presented in Figure 1.
European Union, in the document “Strategy for Sustainable Europe 2030”, set seventeen Sustainable Development Goals for the EU members, which together, with The Paris Climate Agreement (UNCFCCC) stand as a guide for international cooperation for the sustainable development in the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions. Moreover, recently (14.06.2021) G7, a group of representatives of seven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, United States), characterized by the most advanced and industrialized economies across the globe, had a meeting discussing the climate change issues. During the meeting, members of G7 have agreed to support the action of preventing climate change. They stated to renew the collection of $100 billion every year to help developing countries reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The funding would help countries that could be affected by extreme weather and climate-linked disaster. The last commitment of target finance collection was not met, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused economic downturns worldwide [7-8].
Even though COVID-19 caused economic disruptions, we all saw changes that appeared in the environment during the disruptive 2020 while the pandemic had started. Due to the lockdown established in many places, there were significant improvements in air quality expressed in the reduction of particulate matter concentration. Just in the USA, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) were lower by 49% and 37%, respectively .
The pandemic has also influenced the actions taken by entrepreneurs for environmental protection what is presented in detail in the report published by Deloitte Global. The report is focused on the perspectives of entrepreneurs on the climate change issue in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The given study was based on a survey of 750 executives from 13 countries, which took place between January and February 2021. 80% of the respondents declared that they are concerned about climate change, and their organizations are starting to feel the consequences of it, mostly by:
perspectives of entrepreneurs on the climate change issue in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The given study was based on a survey of 750 executives from 13 countries, which took place between January and February 2021. 80% of the respondents declared that they are concerned about climate change, and their organizations are starting to feel the consequences of it, mostly by:
- operational impact of climate-related disaster;
- scarcity and the cost of resources;
- regulatory and political uncertainty;
- increased insurance cost or lack of insurance availability .
Even though the pandemic slowed the actions taken by entrepreneurs in environmental sustainability, 25% of executives declared they will accelerate these actions in the coming months. Currently, there are five actions taken by companies the most often which are:
- implementation of the public policy positions in the context of environmental sustainability and climate change;
- setting the requirements to suppliers and business partners to meet criteria of environmental sustainability issues;
- choosing for production more sustainable/recyclable materials;
- education of board and senior management regarding climate issues;
- creation of additional employee positions responsible for the environmental sustainability performance of a company .
There are already positive changes visible, and there is a significant increase in the current effort done by companies for the environment, presented in Figure 2.
The pandemic has helped entrepreneurs understand that individual actions such as reducing business travel done on a large scale collectively can reduce the company’s impact on the environment. Around 68% of executives are going to limit their carbon footprint by the continuous personal behavior changes .
All of that shows that climate change is a rising issue within enterprises. There is an increasing need for well-trained managers that will deal with the current goals and help companies meet the requirements of environmental sustainability. Thus, knowledge and skills in the context of sustainability, environmental protection and sustainable management gathered during the course of sustainable management will be precious.
Written by Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Gdańsk University of Technology
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