How to turn the tide on climate change: ideas from science, business and the states
On October 29, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the European Business Association and the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine brought together politicians, scientists, business, and international organizations to discuss sustainable solutions to the global climate emergency at the EBA Innovation Day.
The event was opened with a welcome remark by Oleg Uruskyi, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine, and Ignazio Cassis – Vice President of Switzerland, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
The global agenda includes ambitious climate change goals. Their implementation requires a concerted effort at both the national and international levels. Mr. Uruskyi noted that Ukraine is consistent with its international obligations regarding the environment and next week at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) the President of Ukraine will present an updated version of Ukraine’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Thus, by 2030 the country is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 35% compared to 1990.
Mr. Ignazio Cassis also stressed the importance of cooperation between countries in combating the climate threat. “As shown by COVID-19, global challenges do not stop at national borders, they require global solutions. Rich countries must help the poor because sustainable development can only be achieved if we work together.” Mr. Cassis mentioned the case of the development of the Novator ventilators, for which the Swiss Government granted 1.5 million CHF to Ukrainian inventors. “It was a socially motivated decision. I believe that social benefits should be over economic ones when we talk about innovations. Nevertheless, the climate crisis, like any other, brings new economic opportunities. Switzerland has taken advantage of this and is actively developing the cleantech area. We also call for others to become agents of change through clean technologies.”
“It takes a long time to develop an innovation and even longer time to be able to implement one,” said Dr. Christina Marchand, Head of Project on Innovation Monitor and Energy Startup Day Project Manager, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ZHAW School of Management and Law. “Switzerland has an extensive startup ecosystem. But is it effective in terms of innovation? Yes, but it takes startups an average of 10 years to bring their innovative product to the market.” According to Ms. Marchand, breakthrough technologies have been already invented, they are already here with us but incentives are needed for their further implementation and use.
“This year natural disasters have happened 13% more often than last year. And that number is likely to increase,” said Tatiana Sakharuk, CEO of Global Compact Network Ukraine. In preparation for the COP26, 8 scientific reports on climate change were published this year. Thus, scientists have proven that human activities are the key trigger for global warming. And, by 2030, we as humanity need to at least halve our carbon footprint and completely reduce it to zero by 2050.
The business has a crucial role in achieving these indicators. Thus, the UN Global Compact Initiative offers the SDG Ambition program for businesses to unite and align their operations and strategies with the principles of sustainable development. It should be noted that many EBA member companies are actively involved in driving such sustainable transformations. This was discussed during the panel “Big Ideas for the Planet”.
“One million people around the world buy our products every day. And of course, as a socially responsible corporation, we care about our impact on the environment, ”said Andriy Zdesenko, Owner and CEO of Biosphere Corporation. In 2014, Biosphere built a recycling plant that processes up to 900 tons of plastic waste per month. The company has already abandoned primary polyethylene as raw material and replaced it with secondary polyethylene. Garbage bags produced by the corporation are either biodegradable or contain up to 80% recycled plastic. The next step for Biosphere is to invest 5 million euros in the production of biodegradable pellets in Ukraine. Biosphere Corporation is also known for its collaborations in the field of the environment. We should mention a joint recycling project with McDonald’s and a collection of recycled bags created together with the Ukrainian designer ROUSSIN. “We want to start a fashion for smart waste management and environmental products”,
There is another interesting project in this field from Coca-Cola HBC Ukraine implemented in Antarctica. The company has installed equipment for processing plastic into souvenirs at the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station. “Antarctica is a special area where one’s footprint must be kept close to zero according to the rules. On the example of Vernadsky station, which is part of Ukraine, we wanted to show that zero waste can be achieved. We just need to scale this successful case across the country, – commented Andriy Bublyk, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director of Coca-Cola HBC Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova. – At the same time, the lack of adequate legislation is an obstacle for this. Thus, Ukraine is still not able to pass a law on waste management. In my opinion, this is currently the main blocker to changes for the better.”
In turn, Andriy Vavrysh, CEO of Saga Development, shared his vision of sustainability. “Sustainability is a constantly evolving process. When we create a living environment, we imply a certain lifestyle in its design. Our facilities provide a possibility to switch to more energy-efficient technologies when Ukraine is ready for them. And certain design solutions can regulate the demand for consumption of valuable resources. I consider that we need to deal with the problems of the future with a lifestyle of the future. “
“As the world’s largest agrochemical company, we cannot overestimate the role of plastic in our production. This is a very important material for us, – said Tiberiu Dima, Managing director of BASF Ukraine. – At the same time, we are looking for ways to effectively recycle it. Thus, BASF invests heavily in chemical recycling. Worldwide, only 1% of plastic waste is recycled in this way. Chemical recycling allows transforming plastic into a new product with a little CO2 footprint. Tiberiu added that by the end of 2045, the company will offer a carbon footprint calculator for each of its products so that customers can be aware of their consumption. It should also be noted that BASF Ukraine is a participant in such sustainable initiatives of the European Business Association as Agro Varta and EBA Second Chance Bank.
We thank the speakers and participants for an interesting discussion. We hope that this profound exchange of opinions will foster greater cooperation between business, science, and government institutions of different countries, as well as help us rethink our priorities as humanity and better understand the responsibility of each of us for a sustainable future!