Despite being small island states and contributing such a small amount of GHG into the atmosphere, we have understood that no man is an island and this fight against the climate crisis needs a collaborative approach, writes Vinzealhar Nen
Climate change is an issue that affects the world globally, with constantly changing weather patterns, changes in vegetation, and climate change-related migration as a result of natural disasters such as wildfires, heat waves, droughts, floods et cetera.
Although this affects us all globally, small island nations, most of which are developing countries are facing the wrath of the climate crisis and are the world’s most vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change.
When we look at small island nations, we have to understand that mitigation exercises they carry out are in fact a survival mechanism. When there are king tides or rising sea levels, communities need to relocate to safety. Relocation means adapting to a new life, and creating new cultures, meaning a loss of the old and also a loss of languages, all of which are essential parts of one’s identity.
Amid this rising crisis, setting science-Based targets are a responsible way for companies to be held accountable as although small island nations contribute the least amounts of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), they are at the receiving end of the climate and natural crisis.
When we think about science-based targets we are looking at goals that are in tune with the latest information on climate science set by companies. Companies work along these targets to show their commitment towards mitigation efforts, and to also show their contribution towards the global aim of keeping temperatures below 2°C.
Many businesses might not feel the responsibility to set targets, as they understand their profits could be affected. Many times small island nations might not demand climate action from big companies as when the government fails to provide for many communities, these companies step in.
The people understand if they demand targets to be set, these businesses might lose profit and hence, lose alternate support when our government fails to provide basic services such as healthcare, education and or infrastructure.
However, we should not give up, as it is essential for companies in all countries to set targets for a sustainable future, These targets can be reached through collective efforts from everyone across the board.
Before this becomes a reality, the benefits of setting Science-Based targets need to be understood by those of small island nations, whether it be the companies, government officials and agencies, NGOs operating in these countries, and also the people reflecting those in urban and rural areas, this to ensure information is accessible to all groups of people.
Some of the benefits of setting Science-Based Targets are the following;
Boosts profitability: While we might think the introduction of new methods to reach new targets will contribute to a decline in profits, 2254 of the companies who have set science-based targets have proven that this isn’t the case and profits are in fact increasing.
Improves investor confidence: In being able to set science-based targets and still being able to deliver an increase in profits, gives investors (Existing and Potential) the confidence they need to support companies, as they know the decision makers of these companies are flexible to change and will still be able to maintain the company’s good standing.
Drives innovation: It enables companies to think outside the box and the books, and create new solutions to a problem that is affecting the planet. It enables innovative ideas to be brought to life to address a problem that is affecting each and every one of us.
Reduces regulatory uncertainty: In the event that small island nation states reach a time when they have to endorse stronger laws to save their land and people, it will be an easy transition for companies as they are already well within setting targets to help the planet. Hence, it reduces any form of regulatory uncertainty that may arise.
Strengthens brand reputation: Any company would want to be associated with the good fight and a global cause, in order to not just help save the planet but to set targets to help struggling communities with their mitigation efforts. It creates an air of being responsible for a cause greater than the primary aim of businesses which is to make a profit.
By understanding the benefits of setting Science-Based Targets, small island nations should work together with companies and their governments and request for these targets to be set.
To conclude, many island nations are sceptical in trying to engage companies to set Science Based Targets given what we understood as risks when setting these targets and as a result couldn’t demand Science-Based Targets be set. Based on statistics from the businesses that have made these commitments, we can see a whole trend of benefits that can not only help these companies flourish but also help the people with their mitigation efforts.
Despite being small islands and contributing such a small amount of GHG into the atmosphere, we have understood that no man is an island and this fight against the climate crisis needs a collaborative approach, rather than a one-man show.
Vinzealhar Nen is the co-founder of the PNG Climate Change Tribe and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance PNG Hub. She is a Climate Change Activist who ran a nationwide tree planting campaign under the PNG Climate Change Tribe with her peers, planting 12000+ trees of various species around Papua New Guinea. With the help of the sustainable Ocean Alliance Micro grant Nen was able to carry out a reef reconstruction and coral nursery project in Karkar Island. Nen uses writing as a tool to advocate on Climate Change. She was the SIDS youth representative for the SAMOA Pathway Midterm Review in September 2019, in New York City.
Nen is currently the Island Ambassador Program Representative for Papua New Guinea and was recently named as SDG13 action Champion.