Doubling down on ESG: Transforming the way we do business means transforming ourselves
According to a United Nations’ Global Environmental Outlook report (2019), land clearing, habitat loss, and illegal fishing alone are estimated to cost us €14 trillion in lost ecosystem services by 2050 (of a total estimated value of $US 125 trillion (2007)). Additionally, we’re not likely to meet the upper limit of the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global warming within 2°C, let alone 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The current approach to assessing environmental problems by gathering data, identifying but not enforcing legal conditions, and discussing but not implementing global to regional well-financed multi-lateral solutions is too slow and inadequate. We need to pick up the pace. We need to change.
Addressing the triple planetary threat of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution will be challenging. Environmental regulations must be implemented and enforced; vast amounts of capital must be obtained and invested, businesses and homes must be retrofit to use more efficient, renewable energy, and transportation – including cars, trucks, heavy equipment, buses, and trains – must transition to zero-emission vehicles.
We are entering an exciting era in which we can reshape the world and our economies. It’s an opportunity for industries in every sector to take a leading role in combatting climate change and ensure a sustainable future for all. Of course, as with any large undertaking, it takes a village to keep track of all the moving parts. Having a partner like Hatch, which has been delivering positive change for clients for over 65 years, can prove invaluable when it comes to tackling Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) projects.
Especially when the stakes are so high.
Hatch has been honored as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for seven consecutive years. We have extensive experience in developing clean technologies, sustainable design practices, waste management programs, environmental impact mitigation measures, and Indigenous engagement initiatives.
If the world doesn’t find sustainable, renewable solutions soon, there could be catastrophic repercussions that impact our ecological supplies and the communities in which we live. The long-term continued use of fossil fuels could lead to:
- Rising sea levels and more severe weather events
- Energy insecurity in countries that rely on resources such as oil and natural gas
- Health issues, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
- Food insecurity, disproportionately affecting those most in need
- Biodiversity and habitat loss, affecting the very life support of our planetary systems
Each of these issues could also lead to severe economic and environmental impacts and disruptions in areas such as agriculture, transportation, and trade.
The 2020s have been referred to as the “Sustainable Energy Decade”, a time in which significant changes must occur if we are to address the urgent issues of climate change. However, it’s likely that our transition to renewable energy will be delayed for several reasons, including:
- The significant cost and time to build infrastructure that will be needed to convert to renewable energy
- Continued need to use fuel sources from the coal, natural gas, and oil sectors, which are striving to go green but remain vital sources of energy
- Political and regulatory stumbling blocks often influenced by factors other than the public interest
Additionally, all these issues are subject to a time-scale mismatch. We need long-term solutions while research, policy, and funding are usually short-term. We need significant and sustained investment in the medium-term while business decisions are made for short-term returns. We are staring down the barrel of a $US 4.1 trillion shortfall of the estimated $US 8.1 trillion investment needed, annually, over the next 30 years ($US 536 billion annually)1 to sufficiently fund an appropriately scaled response to these problems. Investment in nature needs to triple by 2030 with funding to increase four-fold by 2050 from current levels. And, comparatively speaking, funding and investment in the international policy agenda to manage other global issues, such as development ($US 5.3 billion; 2021)2 and health ($US 6.72 billion; 2022),3 far exceeds the $US 635 million (2022)4 of annual funding that environment receives. In terms of total global GDP, the investment that’s needed to address these environmental challenges is about 7% annually (based on GDP of $US 106 trillion in 2023).5
Private sector, governments and multilateral development banks must come together and spur massive investment, ensuring funding gets in the right hands at the right time. Morgan Stanley has committed to mobilizing $US 1 trillion into the global economy by 2030 for sustainable solutions, while multi-lateral banks reached overall climate finance commitments of $US 32 billion (as of 2020).6
However, industry efforts, government policies, and investments aren’t enough. We need to double down and implement multi-sector and multi-scale interventions quickly and efficiently. Just as important, any solution is going to require individuals to change the way they think and act. We can reduce our personal GHG emissions by heating our offices and homes with renewable forms of electricity, electrifying our houses and cars, reducing transportation, and improving the energy efficiency of our buildings. Relative to the rest of the world, North America is considered to have widespread public participation in addressing environmental impacts. However, it is also responsible for having an outsized impact: 16.5% of annual CO2 emissions in 20217 – with Canada having the highest GHG emission per capita rate from the top 10 emitting countries and regions – if shared equally per person, this equates to three times the global rate.8
It’s up to all of us to do something.
Hatch is eager to do its part, on a corporate and personal level. Like you, we live, work and volunteer in the very communities that are affected by climate change.
We invite you to partner with us on any ESG project you’re considering, and to take up the challenge by cutting your personal carbon emissions to help meet 2030 targets.
It may seem like a small gesture, but it could help change the world.
1. United Nations Environment Programme: State of Finance for Nature
2. World Health Organization: Programme Budget (who.int)
3. International Monetary Fund: Mobilizing Private Climate Financing in Emerging Market and Developing Economies
4. United Nations Environment Programme: Earmarked Contributions
5. Statista: Global gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices from 1985 to 2027
6. International Monetary Fund: Mobilizing Private Climate Financing in Emerging Market and Developing Economies
7. Our World in Data: Annual CO2 emissions by world region
8. Government of Canada: Global greenhouse gas emissions per capita
Global Director, Impact Assessment & Permitting, Associate, ESG
Mellissa has over 20 years of experience as an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment practitioner and has been at the forefront of emerging policy on impact assessment practice, compliance and enforcement, Indigenous engagement, and sustainable development. Progressively expanding her regulatory knowledge as she crossed jurisdictions, Mellissa specializes in high-profile, international, complex major projects (> $1B) in energy, infrastructure, and metals sectors that require approvals, Indigenous support, and deep social capital. She provides impact assessment and permitting services to lenders, owners, and contractor teams across the globe.