In early August, Bill Gates released a blog that reads more like a call to action. COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse explains the parallels between the global crisis of COVID-19 and the potential future crisis of climate change. Gates isn’t shy about predicting some scary effects of coronavirus and draws parallels to the threat of climate change, addressing human, environmental, and economic impacts. This multi-pronged set of challenges is intimidating, but the threats described in his blog are met with some tangible, actionable solutions to address all three separate, but related, topics.
It is clear that Gates considers the climate crisis to be critical and an issue that cannot be sugar-coated or avoided any longer. His blog spins this dire description into a sweeping call to action for all industries, “Governments, inventors, and entrepreneurs around the world need to focus on making green technologies cheap enough that developing countries will not only want them, but be able to afford them.” He gets more specific, “We need science and innovation to lead the way… We need new tools for fighting climate change.”
In this statement, Gates does not call out specific industries or professionals, but instead calls on all organizations, both public and private, big and small, to address this global challenge. What is not explicitly written but may be worth noting about this blog post is to consider the industries that Gates represents. Though he has grown into an iconic thought leader and a tremendous global power, Gates represents the corporate sector.
Through that lens, the call to climate action continues, “The only way to avoid the worst possible climate outcomes is to accelerate our efforts now. Even as the world works to stop the novel coronavirus and begin recovering from it, we also need to act now to avoid a climate disaster.”
Gates, a representative of the private sector, has identified the prime positioning of corporations to become leaders in decarbonization. Because we know that the built environment represents up to 40% of carbon emissions in some markets, this topic is especially critical to any organization that owns, occupies or operates commercial real estate. In this statement, he mentions ‘acceleration’ and ‘innovation’ as two key solutions to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. As a successful leader of one of the most innovative companies in the world, the Co-Founder of Microsoft would agree that technology will support the shift to a low-carbon economy.
The call to action feels urgent due to the powerful statistics used to describe the situation. Without calculations of the potential grim future and analysis to understand progress over time, it will be difficult to determine if Gates’ call to action – or the innovations that emerge from it – was effective. The critical importance of measurement and analysis cannot be underestimated, as the corporate sector focuses on innovating towards a low-carbon future.
Envizi supports corporations in their journey towards decarbonization. Envizi’s data and analytics software helps organizations consolidate their sustainability data, streamline reporting, and identify efficiency and emission reduction opportunities as they work towards a low-carbon future. Together, we can respond to Gates’ call to action, “We need to create a plan to avoid a climate disaster—to use the zero-carbon tools we have now, develop and deploy the many innovations we still need…”