The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relies heavily on urgent action to combat climate change, the impacts of which disproportionately burden the poor and vulnerable. In December last year, 195 Member States signed the Paris Climate Agreement and united them with the common goal of limiting the global temperature rise this century to below 2°C. This is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change, and SDG 13 Climate Action seeks to minimize the duplication of efforts in response to the Paris Agreement and to optimize finite resources.

Governmental cooperation and business action

The underlying targets of SDG 13 outline the challenges that need to be addressed, and highlight the need for cooperation on an international scale. For governments that means strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, and to improve education and raise awareness. They are also asked to integrate climate change measures into national policies, and to contribute to the UN Green Climate Fund. Besides governments the business community also has an important role to play, and has been called on to anticipate, adapt and become resilient to the current and future impacts of climate change to help limit global temperature rising. Companies are seen to be the much-needed catalysts that can transform energy, transport, food and agriculture and forestry systems.

Prime examples - Interface and Kingspan

Revolution – CO₂ as raw material
One company that we consider is a prime contributor to achieving SDG 13 is Interface, the world’s largest designer and maker of carpet tiles, which is close to achieving its Mission Zero goal, a challenge it set itself to eliminate any negative impact it has on the environment by 2020. Having almost achieved this target already, the company has set itself a new challenge: to become CO₂ positive in what is known as Climate Take Back. This revolutionary goal has Interface use carbon dioxide as raw material for its products. If the company succeeds in this, it would give an enormous boost to the fight against climate change. Carbon would become a product with a price, leading more companies to start taking back carbon and integrating it into their business model.

Another prime contributor is Kingspan, a small family Irish business whose insulation products and renewable energy systems lead the way in energy efficient buildings. The mission of the company is to create the products of the future, today. The company ensures that clients never have to choose between efficiency, sustainability, style and safety. Kingspan’s products are based on the three principles of light on energy, light on the planet; and high on efficiency. They include insulation for roofs, walls and floors that lower the environmental impact of buildings, as well as wastewater recycling systems, and renewable energy systems such as small scale wind turbines, thermal solar power tubes and panels, and heat pumps. Its insulation products reportedly save up to 40% of a building’s energy consumption. In addition, so that its products are sustainable throughout their lifecycle, Kingspan integrates product lifecycle assessments (LCAs) in the design, manufacture, installation, use and disposal of its products and services. Of course, the company has made sure that its own house is in order. Kingspan wants to become a Net-Zero Energy (NZE) business, which means that by 2020 it will have all its facilities run on renewable power.

We are encouraged by the contribution Kingspan and Interface are making towards achieving SDG 13, and expect to see more companies in our sustainable investment funds responding proactively to the climate action targets and the other SDGs.

Note: The issues explored in this article are relevant for sustainable investments on the stock market. Triodos Bank believes that our socially responsible investments are a powerful means of promoting our values and working for greater sustainability, while enabling us to offer a complete range of attractive investment options to customers who choose to invest on the stock market.