Corporate Responsibility

"We support the global climate strike"

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New York Climate Week, which takes place annually parallel to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, starts on 23 September. Five questions to Alexander Liedke, Senior Manager Sustainable Business & Markets at the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).

Alexander Liedke, Senior Manager Sustainable Business & Markets at the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).

Alexander Liedke, Senior Manager Sustainable Business & Markets at the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).

At a range of events and actions, politicians, business leaders and representatives of civic society meet to present and discuss various approaches in the struggle against climate change and to underline the enormous importance of the challenge. The Fridays for Future movement has also called for demonstrations worldwide on the Friday previous to the event.

You have provided hands-on help for Deutsche Telekom in its efforts to develop climate protection targets. What do you think are the most important progressive steps in those efforts?

Liedke: One important step forward from our point of view is our decision to orient Deutsche Telekom’s emission reduction targets to the latest scientific research. In this regard the first thing to consider is the scale of reduction required on the basis of the latest available data, and then to draw up a single roadmap on how to get to that destination. Humankind will only manage to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius if all social agents work together on that goal – and the business community has an enormous responsibility in this regard. In that context, the changeover to electricity generated from renewable energies and a recognition of the need to consider emissions from the manufacturing and usage phases of a product’s lifecycle are important steps forward.  

Humanity will only succeed if all social actors participate.

Does all this fit in with your role as an NGO?  

Liedke: Um die Klimakrise aufzuhalten, müssen weltweit konkrete Klimaschutzmaßnahmen umgesetzt werden: Dafür setzt sich der WWF sowohl auf der politischen Bühne wie auch bei der Umsetzung konkreter Projekte weltweit ein. Der Industriesektor ist nach der Energieerzeugung der zweitgrößte Verursacher von Treibhausgasemissionen in Deutschland. Der WWF kann mit seiner Expertise in dem Feld dazu beitragen, die Industrie klimafreundlich zu machen.  Wir sind überzeugt, dass klimafreundliche Geschäftsprozesse auch die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der deutschen Wirtschaft langfristig absichern. Am Ende zählt das gemeinsame, übergeordnete Ziel: den Klimaschutz signifikant nach vorne bringen. Wenn das gelingt, haben beide Seiten gewonnen.

Why is the 2-degree target limit so important?

Liedke: In the Paris Accord the community of nations agreed to limit global warming to significantly below two degrees Celsius, and to make efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees.  The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it abundantly clear that every fraction of a degree counts. It’s like when a child has a fever: there is an enormous difference between a body temperature of 37.5 degrees and one of 39 degrees or higher. It’s exactly the same for our planet. 

The rise in sea levels would be 10 cm smaller in the case of a 1.5-degree as opposed to a 2-degree increase, which would mean about 10 million fewer people becoming affected by the consequent loss of land mass. The loss of polar ice, the thawing of the permafrost – with the associated release of other climate-active gases previously bound into soils – and the scale of species extinctions also take on increasingly drastic proportions as the average temperature rises. 

Right now we’re experiencing a temperature rise of around 1 degree above the pre-industrial levels and we’re already feeling the consequences of that here in Germany – more frequent extreme weather events like heavy rainstorms and droughts, all of which are leading to crop losses, among their other catastrophes. That’s why the WWF is calling on the German and European political and business communities to take action consistent with complying to the 1.5-degree limit. 

What tips could you give those of our employees who want make further efforts in the area of climate protection?  

Liedke: The most important thing is to put pressure on the politicians and the business community, whether it be by voting, demonstrating, signing petitions or making appeals to local parliamentarians. The politicians and the business community possess the most powerful levers available to us to put an end to the climate crisis. It’s only if those politicians and businesspeople take the appropriate action that the rest of us are going to have a chance. That’s why we also support the global strike for the climate called for September 20, when we will be going onto the street to demonstrate alongside the young people in the Fridays For Future movement.  

Humanity will only succeed if all social actors participate.

In addition, of course, everyone can and should start at home, by getting to work on reducing their own carbon footprint. And to help them do so, we have provide our environmental footprint calculator on the internet. You’ll find tips on the site as to where your climate behavior might leave room to you for improvement. For example, the average household expends 75 percent of its total energy on heating. But if you’re already living in an energy-efficient new build or a well refurbished older building, then it might be that the biggest change you’ll be able to make would be in the areas of mobility, diet or your purchasing behavior. Do you really need to take that flight? Promote climate protection action at work and contribute your ideas on how to make changes for the better. There is still time to turn the ship around – but we need to grab that chance with both hands.

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All-in for climate protection: We are dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment as well as that of our customers.

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