This week from 22-28 September, the city of New York will be host to around 100 events, activities and meetings in support of the UN’s high profile Climate Summit. Some of the world’s most powerful and influential people will attend the summit, including US President Barack Obama, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, UK Prime Minister David Cameron as well as former Irish President, Mary Robinson.
As the UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, explained: “People need to understand why decarbonisation is necessary. They need to know it is possible. And they need to see that cutting emissions can benefit economics and people’s well-being.” As a global citizen and part of a company with the mission to improve the quality of life of low-income earners, I agree.
When I think about the future, I see possible scenarios of extreme weather, resource scarcity and energy price increases. These pose a big threat to low-income earners across the developing world, perhaps more so than to businesses – just recently we saw the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan brought to the Philippines, including many Oikocredit partners. As a social investor, we need to think about how these things will affect the most vulnerable in society, and not only our own business operations. So it’s imperative that we at Oikocredit do our bit towards climate change.
That’s why we decided to sign the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change as part of the UN’s summit. It’s just a small step to show that we’re serious about acting on climate change. We’ve also taken considerable steps in the last few years to implement environmental sustainability into our business model.
To start with, we financed Australian company, Barefoot Power, which develops and distributes small solar-powered lighting to rural regions in lower-income countries. Using solar lamps instead of expensive and carbon emitting kerosene lamps provides not only an affordable alternative, but an environmentally sustainable one.
Last year we also implemented an environmental policy for all of our offices across the globe. We incorporated the environment as part of a new triple bottom line and a scorecard as part of our due diligence, which assesses the environmental impacts of a potential partner. This year we announced that renewable energy will be part of our new investment strategy.
I realize we’re not a huge player when it comes to climate change. However, I believe that every business, no matter what the size, should do its part towards being more sustainable, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve and improve on at Oikocredit.
I think my country’s former president and climate change advocate, Mary Robinson, sums it up pretty well: “Climate change is a threat, but responding to it opens up a world of opportunity. The transition we need to make towards a carbon neutral world will provide jobs, a healthier planet, greater well-being and if we do it properly, greater equality.”
Next year the climate summit will take place in Paris. Would you consider attending and meeting people around (like Schneider electric and others), even though Oikocredit is not a huge player in renewable energies yet? Gaël