Eric Olson, Senior Vice President, Advisory Services, BSR

BSR’s new climate strategy—through which we are launching two important new reports today, on Business in a Climate-Constrained World and the Future of Fuels—aims to mobilize our global business network, insights, and expertise in support of sustained business action on climate change.

We start from the premise that all of our actions must be geared toward climate resilience, which we define as holding global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and enhancing adaptation in the face of inevitable climate impacts. To that end, we are developing a series of industry-specific and cross-cutting strategies and programs designed to achieve large-scale, cumulative impact.

Our first report on Business in a Climate-Constrained World outlines our theory of change as it pertains to business action on climate. We believe that business leaders will be able to take more ambitious action on climate issues by improving their understanding of the business risks, increasing collaborative action, and applying “climate resilience wedges” to minimize emissions and maximize adaptive capacity.

Our new business guide on sustainable transportation fuels is a good example of how this approach can be applied to one key area of business impact: the commercial trucking industry. BSR’s Future of Fuels is a leadership initiative that brings together experts from the private, nonprofit, public, and academic sectors to help global companies understand the greatest impacts of their transportation fuel system, and take action—both individually and collectively—to create a system that is sustainable, resilient, and affordable.

The members of Future of Fuels understand that transportation fuels contribute more than 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that this is driving dangerous climate change and leading to impacts such as extreme weather, changes to availability and security of water, and damage to biodiversity and ecosystems services. These, in turn, threaten people and prosperity.

Based on our experience with the Future of Fuels, we believe there are a few key ingredients business can use to drive durable and large-scale climate benefits, which we will apply to other work via our Business in a Climate-Constrained World initiative:

  • Find and focus on the opportunities for greatest impact throughout the system based on a comprehensive and holistic understanding of current products/practices and new alternatives.
  • Similarly, focus on opportunities to collaborate for scale and the sharing of cost/risk, joining the best of existing programs and strategically filling the gaps with new initiatives where needed. The magnitude of the challenges (and opportuinities) presented by climate change are beyond even the largest global players. Collaboration will take many forms, from common policy positions and standards to shared investments in new technologies.
  • While addressing climate change is essential, companies must also manage wider sustainabiltiy impacts. This matters in its own right, and it is necessary for enabling large-scale, durable climate  solutions.
  • To encourage speed and scale in the shift to low-carbon products and processes, consider options that benefit business via one or more of the following:

- Reduce total lifecycle costs.

- Improve the resilience and security of fuel (and other inputs) that are at risk due to a changing climate, physical weather events, and regulatory changes.

- Contribute to the development of effective public policy and marketplace choices.

- Emphasize new solutions that are scalable, reliable, and cost-effective.

- Include strategies that will allow your business to respond to rapid changes to markets and technologies.

- Invest in programs that will generate goodwill from customers and stakeholders.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be providing ongoing guidance and opportunities that will help companies take the urgent, ambitious action needed to build climate resilience. We invite your comments, contributions, and partnership.