In this full-length PDF version of an RI Long Read article, Duncan Austin argues that the need for net zero reveals there have been two interpretations of sustainability all along.
Four decades after sustainability first emerged as a concept, we are witnessing a critical ‘net zero moment’.
First gradually, and now suddenly, companies are making ‘net zero’ pledges to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
This represents a substantial and welcome upgrade of ambition regarding climate change, but poses the obvious challenge.
In March 2021, a survey by Standard Chartered found that 64 percent of senior corporate executives do not believe that net zero commitments are commercially viable, contradicting the longstanding ESG narrative that ecological sustainability is a ‘win-win’ – good for profit and planet.
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