GIZ: An interview with Max Schön, Director, 2° Foundation.
The 2° Foundation is named after its principal goal: to limit average global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees. It is an initiative undertaken by 12 leading figures in the German business community. Its aim is to support politicians in their efforts to establish market-based instruments for climate change mitigation and to activate the problem-solving expertise of German entrepreneurs in the service of climate protection.
Mr Schön, why are large German companies interested in climate change adaptation?
Max Schön: Business conditions are changing worldwide as a result of climate change. While climatic changes are relatively moderate here in Germany, they will have a much more severe impact on logistics channels and on the facilities of upstream suppliers in other parts of the world. Increasingly frequent heavy rain events are suddenly making roads impassable and whole factories are flattened by climate-related acts of nature such as floods and landslides. We only need to think, for example, of the global bottlenecks that occurred with deliveries of computer hard drives in 2011 – these came about due to the flood disaster in Thailand. These kinds of calamities disrupt value chains, and this can have fatal consequences for companies. Also, trends in damage claims are an important factor in the business models adopted by insurers and financiers. Identifying and anticipating the areas that are sensitive to climate policy is in the strategic interests of companies. Adaptation in this context means developing a Plan B.
Where do you see opportunities for tackling the issue of adaptation in a ‘developing country-friendly’ way?
Max Schön: Although the term adaptation may suggest otherwise at first sight, it mustn’t simply be a matter of accepting the harmful impacts of climate change over the long term and accommodating ourselves to them. The aim must always be to avoid or reduce climate change – to protect people, to protect homes and factories, and to safeguard predictability for us all when planning development, be it in society, in business, or in politics.
Many German companies produce abroad because production and wage costs are lower there or because the natural conditions are more beneficial there. Especially in countries with little capital or know-how, though, we must not leave people there to cope with their problems on their own. That is why I think it is a good thing to tackle the issue of harmful climate impacts together with local people where they live. After all, in per capita terms we still count among the main emitters of greenhouse gases.
Where do companies still have difficulties with the issue? What do they need in order to tackle it even more rigorously?
Max Schön: Virtually every company by now has a sustainability strategy that includes climate change mitigation efforts. This is certainly to be welcomed. However, what is currently still lacking is any systematic cross-industry approach to these efforts. Many issues are also still being looked at far too much through a national lens in economic policy terms. I am convinced that nations and companies here in Europe could learn much more from one another on this issue and could benefit from local people’s know-how. The 2° Foundation and the companies that support it are keen to make their particular contribution to this.
The questions were asked by Annette Lutz, GIZ Climate Protection Programme.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>