August 15, 2022

Net Zero Business Models

Are Net Zero Business Models the Future of Responsible Leadership?

Are Net Zero Business Models the Future of Responsible Leadership?

Welcome to our article series about integrating climate management. While it appears to millennial entrepreneurs as common-sense to integrate climate management into their business models, there is still a high level of resistance in our current batch of leading executives. But should climate management not be a must-have competence for a net zero future? This article series illuminates the why & how of integrating climate management into corporate strategy and reflects on how we can develop an unconscious climate competence with the help of climate-smart technologies. 

Complex challenges require new skills and intelligent innovation  

Climate change makes us act as well. Awareness increases, and with that, social systems evolve. But as for any crises and conflicts that arise, awareness alone doesn’t solve the problem. The same applies to our natural and corporate ecosystems. Resilience is key to sustainable success, and we only get there if we cultivate work systems that enable resilient growth. 

However, the climate crisis seems fairly overwhelming, considering the numerous challenges we already face. It makes sense that these multiple crises leave many of us feeling powerless, especially if one starts mourning and grieving the seemingly chaotic entanglement of all these challenges, including that of political and economic interests. Too bad, though, that the consequences will affect all of us, whether we live in a climate-vulnerable region or not, whether we are a millionaire or a farmer, business owners or a father. Those with more financial resources and more privileged living conditions may get to feel them later. Yet, as the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) pictures the State of the Global Climate 2021 in their same-named report with a rich dataset: extreme weather events, water shortages, rising food prices, polluted air, and mass migration will change all our lives significantly. If it is not our existence that is threatened, then it is at least our life quality and business accounts that will be compromised. Fact is, our current survival strategies require some intelligent innovation to adapt- strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation.

Executives agree: immediate action is needed 

A survey of 23.000 senior executives showed that 62% of respondents expect climate change to impact their company’s strategy and operations over the next three years to a very high or high degree (Deloitte’s 2022 CxO Sustainability Report). 34% of senior leaders estimated to be affected to some or a moderate degree. Furthermore, 88% agreed that we can limit the worst impacts of climate change with immediate action. That figure was 63% eight months ago. And yet, climate pledges seem to be prominent. Real change lacks in action. 

black and green climate issues chart
Source: Deloitte’s 2022 CxO Sustainability Report

But as the author Julia Conley reminds us by recalling "the most memorable signs from the global climate strike" in one of her articles: there is “No wealth on a dead planet.” So shall we not all ask: If the cost of non-action is our physical, mental and planetary health, the source of all real wealth, what are we waiting for? 

Our ancestors learnt over generations how to prepare for extreme weather conditions. But our ecosystems reached such a high level of complexity that our strategies to create resilience gained in significant complexity as well (Erdelen & Richardson, 2019). The time we are living in, the new geological age of the Anthropocene, marked by humans profoundly shifting the earth’s metabolic cycles, leaves us with a challenge we simply have never experienced before. However, moving from the unknown into the known always requires growth and comes with some sort of discomfort. So how do we move forward? 

The premise for a sustainable future

We all understand by now: 

  • We cannot continue externalising environmental and social costs.
  • Climate pledges need real action. Carbon reduction needs to happen fast & on a large scale.
  • We need to redesign our business models to ensure future-proof companies and a resilient economy in the bigger picture.
  • Leaders need to develop climate competence. 

Otherwise, we stay great actors in a tragic drama - one with real destinies and tremendous consequences for planetary & human health.  

But what exactly does it mean to integrate climate thinking into a business model? Does that happen at the cost of corporate profitability? What work systems can we implement to ensure effective and profitable climate management? We will look at all these questions in the following articles of this article series. 

We look forward to taking you on this journey and hope you will take the leap towards carbon neutrality.

Other articles in this series

If you would like to expand your knowledge further please refer to our following content:

• Next article: Redefining Value & Corporate Priorities For Successful Net Zero Climate Management

To get to know a practical tool that enables your company to incorporate climate management through an AI-powered platform, feel free to book a demo with Net0. We are eager to show you how to simplify and automate your net zero journey.

This article is authored by Julia Ruff - Founder & Lead Trainer of JR | Regenerative Leadership, a consultancy agency & knowledge hub for Conscious Business & Leadership Development

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