Weathering the storm of climate change is among the greatest challenges humanity has faced—and was the major discussion in a recent SAP Industries Live session.

Business transformation expert Herman Gyr said during the session, “This is the time to act, the only time to act. This is the moment that we all have to take action. The good news is that a lot of companies are signing onto to more sustainable practices.”

Facts about climate change put the need for urgency into perspective. Today, the world is currently measuring temperatures 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement calls for keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. To do this, worldwide carbon emissions would need to be reduced by about seven percent each year for the next 30 years.

According to experts, this goal is virtually impossible, but not because of technological or financial limitations. The money and technology exists to accomplish this goal. The major challenge is not in overcoming these hurdles, but rather in modifying the way we live and the way we do business in order to bring carbon emissions down, along with other climatic factors.

Decisive Action by Leaders

How can we begin to bring carbon emissions down globally? It starts with leaders who are willing to lead by example and pave the way for practices that use fact-based data to reduce waste and emissions. Data insights enable businesses and individuals to reliably track emissions and analyze their impact on the environment, and ultimately the economy and society.

Aerospace leaders like the European Space Agency (ESA) are keeping the pulse of the planet and using the data from their earth observation satellites to provide reliable resources for businesses and individuals to monitor their impact on the environment, which then allows the masses to strategically act. Amid a global pandemic, this seems daunting but during the session, ESA Director of Earth Observation Josef Aschbacher described how they are helping to tackle two crises at once.

ESA is using satellite data from space agencies across the world to maintain a dashboard that analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on the environment. For example, during national stay-at-home orders, air quality improved in some regions, but the dashboard showed how quickly pollution increased when the lockdowns ended. This fragile dependency on human actions stresses the need for long-term solutions.

During the session, the panelists explained how businesses across all industries can take five practical steps to have a lasting, sustainable impact on the environment.

  1. Measure your current carbon footprint, then continuously measure it
  2. Estimate your legacy footprint, or how much CO2 the business has put into the atmosphere over its lifetime
  3. Communicate these measurements to encourage transparency and accountability
  4. Commit to action and enroll others into the action plan
  5. Contribute to carbon capture solutions and consortiums to work together

Collaboration is Key

With such a massive undertaking, collaboration is an important factor to slow climate change. The World Space Alliance, jointly started by ESA and SAP, was developed with this in mind. By integrating satellite data from ESA Earth observation missions and satellite data provided by alliance partners onto SAP Cloud Platform, the partnership allows easy access, networking, and commercial distribution of data and products worldwide.

In January 2020, SAP joined the CEO Carbon Neutral Challenge, which was issued in November 2019 by Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri. Participating companies must adopt an annual strategy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and reduce them throughout the supply chain using nature-based solutions. The challenge is designed to not only reduce emissions, but to support biodiversity and forestry worldwide.

Scalability Requires Technology

Along with collaboration, climate change is an issue that requires scalable solutions. For lasting, strategic impact companies need the ability to track emissions across the entire value chain, using data to highlight areas in which improvements can be made.

This is what SAP Product Carbon Footprint Analytics is all about. It is designed to empower companies to track carbon emissions by cost center, profit center, or plant. With this solution, manufacturers can look at the data and find the places where emissions can be cut. Technology like this enables companies around the world to not only track their bottom line, but also their environmental impact.

The key to slowing climate change will be data integrated with advanced technologies, collaboration, and the urgency to act. During the session, Gyr said it best: “It’s a new world. So we have to step into it with new tools, new technology, new orientation, and a new mindset.” Together, we can save our planet.

For more on how SAP is actively working to slow climate change and enabling our customers to join us, read our sustainability point of view.