The world gathered once again – seven years after COP21, which resulted in the Paris Accords, and as it has done every year since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992. This time, they came together in Egypt, and the leaders of nearly 200 countries engaged in discussions about the various possible measures that could be implemented to achieve the targets formalised in the Paris Accords: keep global warming to within 1.5° C by 2100.
Still not enough progress
But what are these events really for? These meetings have been held over the past seven years, but very little in the way of real progress has been made: on its current trajectory, the Earth is heading for a 2.8°C increase in global temperatures, according to the United Nations Development Programme. If we keep to the most recent commitments made by the various governments, we can expect a 2.6°C increase in temperatures. Slim pickings, and nowhere near enough to reach the targets set in Paris.
Admittedly, some decisions were taken. Lula, who regained Brazil's presidency in its most recent elections, has just pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon before 2030. Meanwhile, other G20 countries restated their desire to honour the 1.5°C commitment. But it’s not enough. We need to go further, faster and make more of an impact.
Governments have a key role to play – that's obvious. Through their actions and their investments, they can collectively set us on the right trajectory and effect real change in people's behaviour. What they do also needs to be coordinated: a few countries on their own won't succeed in turning things around if other extremely polluting countries don't follow suit.
A three-pronged role for companies
Everybody has to play their part. Including individuals, even if their “tiny habits” are only an infinitesimally small part of the problem. But companies, which actually have a three-pronged role to play, can also take action at their level, bringing others with them in their duty to implement initiatives. This is the three-pronged mission that we try to carry out every day at Egis.
Action at our level first involves reducing all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the company’s operation: limiting the most polluting travel, encouraging more virtuous behaviour (and particularly soft forms of mobility) and optimising buildings' energy consumption. At global level, we are committed to an 80% cut in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a considerable commitment, but we are already ahead of our targets.
Bringing others along with us involves creating a movement: so that everybody is fully mindful of just how urgent things are and takes action according to their own means. At Egis, we are lucky: thanks to the thousands of projects that we work on every year for our clients, we are able to exert influence directly on them so that they cut their emissions and limit their impact on biodiversity. In concrete terms, by 2030, we want all of our projects to be eco-designed. That means that they will need to factor in environmental considerations right from their inception, and have high aims. And that will be the case even if clients do not specifically request it! It's a way for us to make a concrete impact to safeguard the environment.
We also have an implementation duty. That means that we have to be able to support the decisions made by governments so that they can be enforced. One highly concrete example is in France, which recently required tenants and owners of tertiary buildings of more than 1000 m² to drastically cut their energy consumption – by 40% between now and 2030, by 50% between now and 2040 and by 60% between now and 2050! These decisions are virtuous, but they can also create a great many complications for the companies affected. I believe that one aspect of our role is to support them so that they can achieve these targets. We have therefore implemented specific support for this area, with guaranteed results from 2030.