Finding clear language to describe the focus of our work can be hard, and we recognise there are significant bodies of work that have been carried out in the specialist domains of mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.
At Icebreaker One, we break our thinking down into two categories:
(A) solving the underlying problem by delivering net-zero and removing greenhouse gas emissions from the planet;
(B) dealing with the consequences of our changing climate.
A. Deliver net-zero
As a society, we need to stop emissions and, given that we have already created enough to cause significant repurcussions, need to remove those emissions already released. Organisations such as Microsoft have made industry-leading announcements that they will not only be ‘net-zero’ in their business by 2030 but that they will also ‘offset’ all of their historical operational business emissions. Many countries have also committed to legally-binding net-zero targets, including the United Kingdom.
B. Address climate consequences
With the level of carbon based emissions in the atmosphere, even if we globally reach a goal of net-zero, there will still be climate consequences. As such we need to become more resilient. Our buildings need to be built to withstand climate shocks, our crops need to be able to deal with more drought or rain, and our towns and cities need to address flooding issues.
Similarly, we need to change our behaviours to consume less. Whether this is less material-usage in a product or overall reduced energy usage in either product creation or our general consumption, by reducing consumption we will reduce emissions by generating less in the first place.
Further, the consequences of climate change will have substantial geopolitical and social impacts. Changing weather patterns will change where certain crops can be grown or where certain fish may live and breed, potentially moving whole industries across country borders. Some regions of the planet will become uninhabitable due to either severe flooding or heat, and we expect this to lead to mass-migration of people to those which remain sustainable.
Together both delivering net-zero and addressing climate consequences can lead to interventions that we frame as ‘climate-ready’. We are exploring ideas from both categories, strongly prioritising the former. Without net-zero, as a society we will not be able to sufficently address the impact of climate change.
So, for example, a climate-ready financial product is one that actively mandates that the outcomes from its use is demonstrably net-zero. A climate-ready building is one that minimises its own emissions during construction use and demolition, minimise its ongoing consumption footprint and is resilient to the changing environment in which it exists.
To understand how emission are categorised, see https://www.epa.gov/greeningepa/greenhouse-gases-epa
For other visualisations seehttps://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions