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The world is on fire … but maybe there's reasons for hope

The IPCC's 6th Assessment Report, the latest in its regular comprehensive (if cautious) assessments of climate science, was published on Monday 9 August. The AR6 report warned that human activity is changing the climate of the planet, these changes are unprecedented, they are already affecting the weather and climate events in every region of the globe, and some changes are now inevitable and irreversible.

The IPCC report promptly sunk out of the news cycle in a matter of days. The climate crisis does not disappear so easily, of course.

The last few months has seen devastating wildfires in countries around the world, on virtually every continent. Smoke from wildfires on the US west coast reached the east coast and blanketed virtually the whole country. Fires in Turkey spread to Greece, with frightening scenes of people escaping from coastal towns by boat and watching as flames engulfed their homes. A Siberian wildfire broke out, growing to be larger than all other current wildfires combined, and could become the largest ever.

July 2021 was the hottest in recorded history, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The IPCC report stated clearly, however, that while a hotter future is certain, just how hot is still up to humanity. Not least is the urgency to reach at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in emissions of other greenhouse gasses. This, in fact, is one of the most striking parts of the report — that it sets out insights on possibilities for cautious optimism, if humanity chooses to act decisively.

Although collective political action is fundamental, business has as much a part to play in all this as any. Many agencies are already making changes to their business model and activities to reduce their climate impact, and finding help is available, too. Many are moving towards B Corp certification, for instance.

The climate crisis is one the six themes in our Radar Report for H2 2021, and whilst we warn of risks from the impacts, we also indicate that there are many opportunities in the green economy. Now, more than ever, is the time to pivot to low climate-impact activities, products and services.