In Sweden we are famously good at queuing: we queue to get onboard the bus and at the check-out in the supermarket. One thing at a time, patiently waiting in line seems to suit us. Can this also be applied to some of the big, existential challenges that face us? When it comes to fighting climate change, do other sustainability problems have to get in line and wait their turn?
On the day this blog is published, in just 6 years and 56 days we have to reach net zero emissions if we are going to achieve the target of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Add to that record high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, sea levels rising by 26 centimeters since 1880, and 30% of the polar ice caps having disappeared since 1970. As there is overwhelming evidence that we must act quickly, there is increasing support from both businesses and governments to decrease the negative climate impact that we have as societies, companies, and individuals.
Currently 70 countries have committed to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, covering 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions. More than 3000 companies are also engaging with the Science-Based Targets initiative to set ambitious climate targets in line with the latest climate science, including Tele2, which has committed to net zero emissions by 2035. At the same time, we run the risk of creating new sustainability problems in our attempts to reduce our negative impact on the climate. This could both be negative environmental impact, for instance increased use of various resources, such as raw materials or energy, or negative social impact, for instance on working conditions somewhere along our global value chains, such as occupational health and safety for workers or the use of child labor.