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Cross-border climate change commitments need cross-sector coalitions


09 January 2017

Kevin Taylor

Blogs by author: Kevin Taylor, President, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Eastern Mediterranean, BT


Amid all the discussions and meetings at the COP22 Global Climate Change conference in Marrakech, two themes took centre stage. With the Paris Agreement having entered into force at the start of November, it’s clear that we need to turn its commitments into action. And, if we are to do so successfully, then collaborating and forming coalitions that work towards a shared goal will be vital.

These coalitions obviously need to include nations working with other nations: climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. But to truly harness our collective power and meet our climate change targets, we need collaboration that crosses sectors as well as borders.

Alongside China, the United States and Russia, the countries with three of the largest greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Cameroon are all among the African signatories who have ratified the Paris Agreement. To meet their targets, these nations are going to need to take steps towards sustainability at every level, from education and public awareness, to implementation and public policy. And to do so will require a focused and collaborative approach.

Businesses have a critical role to play. Companies like BT will have to work effectively with others – governments, consumers and other important stakeholders and groups – if we are to deliver the change we need for our environment.

In Marrakech, the spotlight was on several major examples of the sort of cross-sector partnerships we need. And while the continent’s carbon footprint remains relatively modest when compared to other regions, a lot of these promising examples can be found right on the doorstep in Africa.

Morocco is a great example of the steps African nations are taking to tackle climate change. Not long ago, Morocco was the Middle East’s largest energy importer, and more than 97% of its energy came from fossil fuels. Now, the kingdom is now on track to supply more than 40% of its energy through renewables by 2020. In Ouarzazate, just down the road from last year’s Conference, the world’s biggest solar power plant is being built on the edge of the Saharan desert. Earlier in 2016  King Mohammed VI opened the first phase of the plant that will power over one million homes by 2018 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year. A remarkable transition, made possible by the collective drive of business, government, consumers and environmental bodies.

The official launch of the SMARTer2030 Action Coalition is another great example of collaboration in action. BT are delighted to be part of a partnership that brings together the ICT industry, business, policymakers and civil society, to ensure information and communications technologies are at the heart of our response to tackling change.

Ensuring the world’s growing use of ICT does not exacerbate carbon emissions, while simultaneously leveraging the enabling potential of ICT to reduce CO2 emissions in a broad range of industry sectors, SMARTer2030’s founding partners include the Government of Morocco, Global e-Sustainability Initiative and BT. Working towards a low-carbon economy and are confident that, together, I know we can harness ICT’s full potential.

COP22 established that the Paris Agreement is here to stay and that businesses are already playing an essential role in changing mindsets and redefining climate change strategies. But neither businesses nor any other group can do this alone. The progress we’ve seen in Africa and around the world is the result of a cooperative and coordinated effort. Now we need to scale our response, together.

Find out more about BT’s approach.