Keys to climate change action
Updated 21:16, 28-Jan-2021
World Insight with Tian Wei

The world's warmest five years on record have all occurred since 2015. This rapidly warming planet coincided with climate inaction and sometimes outright climate skepticism from some world leaders. Now, the time for lofty goals on climate change is gone, as we all have to catch up with environmental boots on the ground. At Davos Agenda 2021, CGTN's Tian Wei hosted a leadership panel with political and business leaders from Asia and Europe, to mobilize actions on climate change.

Carbon neutrality is a worthy goal, but even the best intentions are not guaranteed in the corporate world. Christian Mumenthaler, group CEO of Swiss Re, explains that companies adopt different governing norms based on their country of origin. But these differences have become more pronounced as companies that aspire to serve society and not just a wealthy few become inspirations for all. 

Mumenthaler explains that in the U.S., the law says the boards of directors have to work for the benefit of shareholders. While this is not the case in the Europe as the boards of directors have to act in the interests of the company, which is still influenced by the U.S. However, China and Japan have a different approach; they have the harmonious society concept.


Mumenthaler says that the public now demands that corporations go from being climate conscious to being climate active.

"Pension funds feel the pressure, and put the pressure on the companies. They have to transition to a Net Zero world. It started in Nordic countries, but it came down south before moving to Canada and the U.S. This movement began two years ago. This culminated in the letter of Larry Fink, the biggest asset manager in the U.S., which said that companies that didn't commit to Net Zero 2050 will be left behind."

Governments play a pivotal role in setting policies. China's Minister of Ecology and the Environment, Huang Runju, reaffirmed China's plan of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060. This was made possible by corporations driving down the price of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. 

Huang also described how China wanted to share its environmental know-how by organizing 145 training programs with 2,000 specialists to other countries. China's push for international cooperation on climate action is echoed by Teresa Ribera, Spain's minister of ecological transition.

It's a good idea of a race to be the first one to be more committed to climate action. Europe is thinking about regulations to become the first continent to be carbon neutral, she said.


Europe's ambition is best demonstrated in its goal of making renewable energy account for 75 percent of energy production by 2030. A goal made more likely after Europe's renewable energy production overtook fossil fuel energy production for the first time in 2020. Climate action is not limited to the national or supranational level, and the city of Tokyo is an interesting case study of how metropolitan authorities can provide the conditions that favor environmentally conscious companies, said the city's governor Yuriko Koike.

"Tokyo is implementing many solutions to climate challenges. We have actions to reduce 50 percent of CO2 emissions. We also announced the ban on sales of gas-fueled cars by 2030. Tokyo is party to C40, a group of major cities dedicated to tackling climate change."

Hak-Cheol Shin, vice chairman and CEO of LG Chem, agrees with Koike on the top down approach to climate change, be it from the public or corporate sector. He adds that CEOs need to step up with a personal commitment demonstrated by his three goals.

"Leadership commitment at the top is the only way to make it happen. First we need to commit ourselves to the goal and declare this is a personal priority as a CEO. Secondly, operationalize by setting specific milestones and develop actionable plans to get there. Without clearly defined reduction goals the slogans will be hollow. Thirdly, we must engage the public sector to tackle the issues as a team. This is my working model for my colleagues."

Asia and Europe have numerous blueprints for climate action. With joint efforts, they will contribute to the global cause on climate protection.

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

Time (GMT): 1415, 2015

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