“Frankly speaking, we’ve probably passed the point of no return,” said a sombre Achim Steiner in his opening speech at the Responsible Business Forum in Singapore on Thursday.
The administrator for the United Nations Development Programme was referring to the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicted that in 12 years, the world will have exceeded the emissions limit for keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But with this “profoundly disturbing” news comes opportunities for the world to act, said Steiner to an audience of 700 business, government and civil society delegates.
“Over the course of human history, imperatives to act have, more often than not, triggered extraordinary feats of ingenuity and opportunity,” Steiner said, adding that the markets of the future will judge businesses on how they react to the challenges posed in a warming world.
In a 25-minute speech, Steiner said that now, more than ever, there is an “imperative to act” and that responsibility for climate action “rests in the hands of business”.