In 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Ahrenius first published a calculation showing that human CO2 emissions would cause global warming. For many years, this has been seen as a distant threat. In the last few decades, that has changed – not so much here and now. This summer, fires, floods and heat waves have made it clear that the effects of climate change are happening right now. So is it too late for us to act? Or, climate podcast hosts like “How to Save a Planet” ask their guests: “How bad are we?”
Although humans have already made irreversible changes in the climate, the scientific community seems to agree that we have a window of opportunity to avoid the most catastrophic consequences, if we act now. To get a chance to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, which science has told us to do, the world needs to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Hundreds of world leaders are gathering in Glasgow at the moment to review the progress of the COP26, Paris 2015 agreement and to secure more ambitious national reduction commitments and support for a developing economy – hopefully keeping the 1.5 degree Celsius target alive.
What role can organizations like Spotify play in the fight against climate change, and what should it do? Well, a lot.
Companies have a crucial role to play in keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Not only reducing their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also finding innovative ways to transform our society into zero emissions. If contributing to the global crisis is not enough, there are other, more short-term reasons for working as a company on climate change. Keep and attract talent, for example. 76% of General Z said that tackling climate change is one of their biggest concerns, so in order to attract and retain General Z (and others), you need to take action on what they care about.
There are many different ways to get net zero emissions, but some of the key steps include:
Set a direction
You need to know where you are going. Setting a direction, a long-term goal, enables you to manage and activate resources. It gives your company an indicator of what to do and what not to do. Without it, you can find yourself with a lot of good initiatives and projects without a clear red thread, which will basically reduce the impact. The goal should be based on science, which means you should aim for net zero emissions by 2050, and halve your emissions by 2030. At Spotify, we are committed to reaching net-zero emissions within the next decade. Referring to this guideline, we hope to inspire other companies to set ambitious goals, making it an invitation to collaborate.
Don’t do it alone
We really need to cooperate. For Spotify, about 98% of our emissions come from activities outside of our direct activity, where we have no complete control. The same is true of most other digital companies, so we need (and want) to join forces with each other to find more innovative, efficient, and inspiring ways to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. Usually, the first step is to get involved in your value chain, but don’t underestimate what you can learn from industry peers, other sectors, and organizations.
As part of our journey to Net Zero, we have joined the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, a network of selected innovative companies, scientists and NGOs committed to rapidly reducing GHG emissions. Companies are committed to halving their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The Exponential Roadmap created the 1.5 Degrees Celsius Business Playbook, a framework that outlines how businesses can align with net-zero ambitions and set up a climate. The strategy is to get them there. We find this framework very useful, especially since it outlines how companies need to reduce emissions and how you can integrate climate into business strategies and influence climate action in society.
Do what you do best
When setting up your company’s climate work, you need to think about what makes your company unique. This is important when mapping your emissions because it will not only help you identify where to focus your reduction efforts but also think about how to maximize your positive impact. What resources do you have that you can use to bring about climate change? With this mindset, you focus on being actively part of the solution rather than being part of the problem, and using your existing resources and skills instead of investing in new ones.
For us, it comes down to our platform and our reach. With over 380 million users, we have a role to play in raising awareness and taking action on climate change. For COP26, we’re trying a few different ways to use our platform to do this.
Until Earth Day earlier this year, we created a Climate Action Hub on our platform where listeners can find a curated set of climate-related podcasts. We’ve now updated the hub with content from the COP26 report to Climate Justice episodes and from scientists to climate activists to help inspire audiences to navigate, learn more, and take action. It includes a curated podcast playlist by climate scientist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, as well as Act Now (Mobile Hub), the UN campaign for climate action, and more.
Spotify has set up a mini audio studio in the Blue Zone, the official UN-run venue at COP26 Venue, where we are hosting interviews and live stream conversations in our new social audio app Spotify Greenroom. Our ambition is to make the conference more inclusive and to provide the audience, especially young people, with the opportunity to add comments and questions as well as backstage access to COP26, even if they may not be present in person.
Will you join us on this journey and what parts of your business can you use to help solve the climate crisis?