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Shooting for net zero

Not too long ago, achieving climate neutrality felt like a moonshot. Now, it’s become a possible but challenging imperative, crucial to businesses and governments the world over. The route there, however, remains contested.

This is our opportunity to drive the electric revolution with transparency as a key word.

To discuss what climate neutrality actually means and how we will get there, we invited three thought-leaders to take a (virtual) seat at our roundtable. Wednesday, February 10th saw us, in collaboration with Tortoise Media, host a live, digital round-table event entitled “Net Zero: from talk to action – what really works?”.

The participants were Polestar Head of Sustainability Fredrika Klarén, climate and clean tech thought leader Diana Fox Carney, and Exponential Roadmap Initiative co-founder Johan Falk.

The audience was comprised of media, other stakeholders and anyone interested in the topic. Throughout the event, the audience could interact, pose questions and further elaborate on the topic of taking climate action, allowing for a more interactive experience.

The editor, Giles Whittell, opened the conversation by letting all speakers give their thoughts on climate neutrality.

“Climate neutrality is a point where there are no negative impacts on the climate due to businesses. In a climate-neutral future, we will have fully embraced circularity,” said Klarén.

The conversation moved on to whether businesses are focusing too much on so-called offsetting and talking up their green credentials while clinging to a carbon-intensive status quo. Though the speakers unanimously agreed that offsetting will have a role to play on the route to net zero, they also stressed that more clarity is needed. The danger of greenwashing was pointed out, leading people to believe they’re making a difference when they’re not. Progress is therefore impeded.

“Every company should get on a trajectory to cut emissions. They might also invest in climate solutions outside their value chain, but they should not be mixed. That is a big mistake which has been done so far. Companies today should not claim that their product is in any way climate neutral, because that’s not aligned with reality in science,” argued Falk.

This is what led Polestar to strive for greater transparency. LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments), which Polestar has performed to determine the lifetime carbon footprint of the Polestar 2, were brought up as a powerful tool to measure the impacts throughout a product’s life, while enabling consumers to make informed decisions.

“This is our opportunity to drive the electric revolution with transparency as a key word. If we start with greenwashing now, we set ourselves off on the wrong path and risk losing customer trust,” affirmed Klarén.

The panellists emphasized the need to take immediate action and outlined what key actions businesses need to be taking to align themselves with the 1.5°C ambition.

“We are now in a place where we need to do absolutely everything all at once. It’s not businesses or governments or individuals, it’s everything. We need all hands on deck,” stated Carney.

“I believe deep integration of climate in business strategy can tip over development, and companies going in the frontline will start to outcompete the fossil based companies. We see it with EVs. I’d like to see it in every industry,” continued Falk.

A truly sustainable business, therefore, must act ethically, with integrity, and follow all laws and regulations throughout the entire value chain. For this reason, a key strategy for Polestar is to partner with suppliers that adhere to the strictest environmental standards. 

Fredrika Klarén closed the event by asserting that there are some actions that we all need to take in order to accelerate the change towards a climate-neutral future.

First of all, customers must be supported and encouraged to utilise their buying power to make a change. Secondly, business leaders should seize this opportunity to make change on a fundamental level. Leaders have to be in by 100 percent, less than that will not work. And finally, employees must create a speak-up culture and question non-transparency.

Reaching climate neutrality will require consumers, companies and governments all to take bold actions. To shoot for the moon. A fitting goal for a guiding star.

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