Let’s seize our window of opportunity for a climate neutral future

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Just like the coronavirus, the nature and climate crises don’t stop at any borders; they can only be solved through proper collaboration.

We can only succeed if we co-operate across the entire value chain to deliver on the overall 1.5°C ambition. Only if companies start working intensively and in a structured manner with their value chains will we create the necessary change.

Companies have to use their purchasing power, innovative skills and business relations to extend their efforts beyond their own operations and work together to change the carbon footprints of their value chains.

Why? Because consumers expect to be able to make greener purchases and companies have to transform their businesses and product offerings to deliver on their sustainability promises. We all have to dare to stick our necks out, to show the way and push boundaries in our relevant sectors for a greener future for all.

2021 marks another important year for climate action

We have entered what the UN calls “The decade of action”. We are at a critical crossroad, both globally and at EU level. Global climate co-operation has intensified again this year with the US rejoining the Paris Agreement.

But we have a lot to catch up on after last year’s COP cancellation, so COP26 in Glasgow in November this year has to deliver and finalise an ambitious Paris Rulebook. At the same time, the EU has to come forward with a forward-looking Fit for 55 Package to set the right path for Europe to meet its Climate Neutrality target by 2050.

Earlier this month, Members of the European Parliament also called for binding biodiversity targets to protect wildlife and people. Finally, let’s not forget the roll out of national EU recovery plans (with climate, digitalisation and renovation at the core) to create real momentum for the much-needed green transition.

Building industry plays an important role in ongoing decarbonisation

The building industry is responsible for a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions, or more precisely 39 percent (28 percent from building operations and 11 percent from building materials and construction).

Being part of this industry, we have a societal responsibility to diminish our carbon footprint and this must be central to our strategic initiatives for the next decade. When it comes to buildings, we should use the upcoming Fit for 55 Package as an opportunity to broaden the scope of climate action beyond just continuous energy efficiency improvements to ensure healthy and sustainable buildings in our lives.

To achieve this, we need to radically rethink the way buildings are designed, built, used and deconstructed, and we must build to last and with the health of people and our planet always in mind.

We need increased collaboration for a corporate sustainability movement

What is certainly different now compared to a few years ago, is that more and more people are becoming aware of sustainability in general. An increasing number of industry stakeholders no longer see sustainability as something ‘nice-to-have’ but rather something essential to good and everlasting business.

At VELUX, we are committed to raising our ambitions for climate and nature action and we encourage other companies in our sector, and also beyond, to step up. I already see an increased focus and awareness across the industry, making it easier for us to collaborate with our partners and suppliers to achieve our sustainability goals. But we need more to join this corporate sustainability movement!

The recently launched Climate Pact by the European Commission is an interesting initiative in this regard as it can bring stakeholders across sectors and value chains together to inspire each other and work collectively to raise the ambition level.

We therefore welcome this week’s Climate Pact Day of Action as it is a direct call for industry to step up and go beyond what is expected by law.

Need to raise ambitions and enter partnerships for transformation
Every player across the sector must raise ambitions and unleash creativity to enable a net-zero future. At VELUX, this means that we will reduce our future CO2 emissions in line with a 1.5°C decarbonisation pathway and by 2030 operate as a carbon neutral company as well as also halve carbon emissions across our value chain.

But that alone is not enough. We are committed to become Lifetime Carbon Neutral by 2041, the year of our 100-year anniversary and through a 20-year global partnership with WWF, we will capture our company’s historical carbon footprint, right back to when VELUX was founded in 1941.

We will do this through forest conservation projects developed and led by WWF to preserve rich ecosystems and wildlife. Each company will need to find its own way into this agenda but collaborations and partnerships across sectors and value chains are necessary to achieve a critical mass that drives transformation.

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