It is no surprise that climate activism, especially among young people, has grown drastically in the past year. On 20 September 2019, the world saw what some estimate was the largest single-day climate protest in history. The organizers of the global climate strike say that nearly four million people participated in 6,000 events held in more than 1,000 cities across 185 countries.
The protests have not gone unnoticed. It would be hard to ignore millions of potential voters taking to the streets. Politicians are becoming increasingly aware that the next generation of voters will soon be coming of age and will be demanding tougher policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And it’s not only votes that governments need to watch out for; Climate Change campaigners have successfully brought federal governments to court in The Netherlands and Germany to demand stricter and more ambitious climate reduction targets. These lawsuits set the scene for similar court action planned in various other countries around the globe - further cases are under way in India, Uganda, and across Europe, including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway.
Global Action – Global Response
There is relatively strong support for environmental policies in Europe. A poll carried out in the weeks prior to the EU elections showed that German voters saw the environment as the Number one issue facing the EU. From a list of 16 topics, 34% of respondents said protecting the planet from climate change was their top priority.
Even so, if Europe has historically been a leader with regards to environmental policy, the results on the ground are less promising. The ‘State of the Environment Report 2020’ published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in December 2019 highlights that out of 35 tracked indicators and policy objectives for 2020, the EU is only on track to meet six. Looking further, to 2030 and 2050, the results are even worse and show little progress towards tackling climate change, pollution or nature loss.
While there might be a lack of results on the ground, ambition is still high at the European Commission. In December 2019, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the European Green Deal, a roadmap towards 2050 for transitioning Europe towards climate neutrality through, amongst others, clean products and technologies. That protection of the environment is becoming a bipartisan topic (it was supported by an overwhelming majority in the EU Parliament in January 2020) shows promise for the future. The next step is to see how these lofty plans are implemented and if Europe’s ambition will start to show real results.
What About the Naysayers?
Despite rising attention around the world, there are still politicians showing resistance to addressing climate change, for example in Australia, Brazil and the United States. A recent report from the UN Environment Program found that even though environmental laws have increased exponentially over the past four decades, a lack of enforcement means that environmental threats continue to grow. They report that “Failure to fully implement and enforce these laws is one of the greatest challenges to mitigating climate change, reducing pollution and preventing widespread species and habitat loss.”
What Does This Trend Mean for amfori Members?
In the future, amfori member companies will likely be subject to an increasing number of regulations and laws related to carbon emissions and environmental impacts. Companies of all sizes will need to be ready for more scrutiny from all stakeholders on their emissions, both direct and indirect, and on their wider environmental impacts.
Read more about how amfori BEPI supports members to address environmental impacts (including carbon emissions) in the supply chain.