By Jens-Peter Saul, CEO Ramboll Group, July 2017.
This article has also been published on Jens-Peter Saul's blog on Huffington Post.
Germany’s plan to boost climate and sustainable development at the G20 summit in Hamburg next weekend is arguably crumbling. But that does not mean that the climate and sustainability agendas are crumbling.
As The Economist pointed out recently, big businesses are continuing their climate effort despite the current administration’s policy:
More than 900 American firms and investors, including Amazon, Twitter, Target and Nike, have put their names to an open letter to the UN with the message: “We are still in”.
Nordic companies like Ramboll are still in, too. There should be no doubt that we are in favour of Germany’s effort to put sustainable development and climate change on the G20 agenda. And there’s no doubt that our political leaders’ visions, aspirations and initiatives are important.
But there are even more reasons - and stronger forces - pulling in the direction of green transition.
Prices for solar and wind power are falling sharply, investors are increasingly investing in sustainable solutions - and in Ramboll we see this reflected in our work.
Just a month ago, we were appointed to design foundations for a wind farm in the Yellow Sea north of Shanghai – the third big Chinese offshore wind project we’re involved in. It showcases that China itself is in the middle of a significant green transition – and that the country is not afraid to ask the outside world for help.
Our district heating expertise is being exported to new countries including UK, Germany and on the US East Coast - yet another example that the green transition not only saves CO2, but also saves money. At the same time it is a good example that low-carbon organisations and networks continue to attract new members and partners, also in the USA.
In Africa, we are helping Morocco with a new gas project. It will reduce the country’s dependence on oil and coal imports and decrease CO2, but also facilitate that countries like Morocco are getting closer to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, here primarily goal 7; to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
And on the small Copenhagen island Amager where I work in Ramboll Headquarters, we are helping to build a spectacular plant. On the outside, the ‘Amager Bakke’ waste-to-energy facility has climbing walls and ski slopes – and is thus already a landmark for the capital. Inside it raises the bar for innovation, technical excellence and resource optimisation with an energy efficiency of 107% and high potential for recycling and recovery.
So: visionary politicians are important, and it would of course be great if the G20 summit can help promote the climate and sustainability agendas. But responsible companies with a strong commitment to clients and society can boost those agendas every day.