Why define climate solutions
We need to make deep and rapid emissions cuts now to limit global warming to 1.5°. The latet science presented in the Sixth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was clear on that. Already before this assessment, Johan Rockström, now Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, together with Exponential Roadmap Initiative’s Co-founder Owen Gaffney and others had in Science magazine proposed framing the decarbonization challenge of achieving net zero by 2050 in terms of a global decadal roadmap based on a simple heuristic—a “carbon law”—of halving gross anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions every decade.
But reducing emissions at the pace and scale needed requires scaling up climate solutions. That is in order to reduce a risk of economic and societal collapse, and to provide alternative opportunities for finance that is currently going into fossil fuel solutions.
What are climate solutions?
Scaling climate solutions first requires defining what the solutions are. In the climate debate, the term “climate solution” is often associated with technological solutions that are very costly and not currently nor in the near future available for deployment at scale.
Exponential Roadmap Initiative understands climate solutions differently: as solutions that are essential enablers of achieving the necessary emissions reductions at the needed scale and pace. The Exponential Roadmap report highlighted 36 solutions that are market-ready, are affordable (like renewable energy), can be scaled rapidly (like electrical vehicles) and can save money (like energy efficiencies). In its synthesis report of the sixth assessment cycle, the IPCC also pointed available and cost-competitive solutions.
The role of companies
Companies play a key role for climate solutions: They can be innovators that develop solutions. They can be transformers that provide a product or service that is a climate solution because it transforms an existing product or service. They can be disruptors that provide a climate solutions product or service that is entirely new and disruptive.
For businesses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing solutions that help customers and society to cut their emissions opens up new exponential growth opportunities and an opportunity to reduce costs and increase performance and profitability.
The Exponential Roadmap Initiative currently applies the following criteria (at least one) for a products and services to qualify as climate solutions:
- significantly lower carbon footprint, at least 50% lower (preferably 90% or more) than the business as usual solution being replaced.
- has the sole purpose of enabling others to avoid or reduce emissions.
- fulfills the thresholds set out in a robust taxonomy.
And in addition the following safeguard criteria:
- has no material negative impacts on nature (e.g. biodiversity on land and in oceans)
- fulfills human needs and is potentially scalable to all the world’s population.
As the world transforms towards 1.5°C-alignment, companies that are not currently providing climate solutions have to transform their business models. The 1.5°C Business Playbook offers, in version 3, a set of forward-looking Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that companies can use to assess progress. These include % of revenue from climate solutions, emissions avoided over product lifecycle, and R&D spending on climate solutions as % of CAPEX.
- Solutions House 2023 event: The Race to the Top: Scaling Climate Solutions Globally
- A climate solutions assessment framework for professional services providers
- Comment: The good news from the IPCC report