It’s time to upgrade your employees’ skills in climate science

Glasgow’s success (COP26) will be decided in the boardroom. Even in business schools, sustainability is often an optional subject; companies need to help their leaders learn more about climate change

By Miniya Chatterji

In November, delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered in Glasgow for COP26, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with the aim of meeting climate targets (containing global warming ). To do this, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of each country must be reflected in the actions taken by its largest companies. Failure of these companies to do so can result in countries not meeting commitments.

Transitioning businesses to ‘net zero’ requires skills, technology and funds. Among most Indian companies, all of these are currently weak. India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, and the Climate Action Tracker ranks India’s climate targets and policies as “grossly insufficient” in its compliance with the limit temperature of 1.5 ° C of the Paris Agreement. For India to improve its rating, it is incumbent on companies operating in India to recruit a technically skilled workforce in climate action, invest in technological change and structure financing mechanisms to support their transition. towards net zero operation.

To do this, three challenges must be met. The first is the climate education void that needs to be filled by schools and universities. Second, there is a skills gap in climate finance which includes financial structuring, the use of international finance and the know-how to build PPPs. The third is the priority problem: climate action is often ranked 11th of a company’s 10 priorities.

While there are no quick fixes, a movement led by models like Wipro, Marico, Maruti Suzuki, and Tech Mahindra is in place. The common denominator of these pioneers is their skills in climate science. The companies that follow will need to invest in executive training – the current generation of the workforce has almost missed the climate action learning bus in their formal and university education. The education system in India and most parts of the world does not yet offer a mandatory understanding of our changing climate and ways to mitigate or adapt to it. For the most part, neither in school nor in university, we are not taught to count GHGs, to carry out impact assessments, to understand the carbon footprint, waste, energy, hazardous materials and the means to manage them. Even in business schools, sustainability is often an optional subject. Companies will therefore have to step in and help their managers learn.

To achieve this, online courses offered by a handful of credible platforms are an option, as these allow their students to study and work simultaneously. The World Bank offers easy-to-follow online courses on topics such as climate finance, GHG accounting, and protocols. The International Energy Agency in Paris offers online training on energy efficiency as well as energy efficiency indicators, apart from webinars and other virtual resources that focus on statistics. Coursera has a few offers on sustainable businesses. On the other hand, courses such as those offered by the Amsterdam-based Global Reporting Initiative Academy provide skills to scientifically assess the social and environmental impact caused by their business and factually report to stakeholders. Sinzer offers free tutorials to learn how to scientifically calculate social returns on investments and more.

Some incubators and accelerators also offer support for entrepreneurs in the creation of sustainable businesses. The Circulars Awards help start-ups to integrate practices based on the principles of the circular economy. The Anant Climate Action Fellowship annually delivers knowledge through innovative hybrid online and offline formats and mentorship from industry pillars to a cohort of practitioners.

Glasgow’s success will thus be determined on the boards of companies that embark on training their employees in climate science.

The author is CEO of Sustain Labs and Director of the Anant Fellowship for Climate Action

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