What is absolutely key, is for organisations and governments to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, beyond only disclosing their emissions.

Most organisations that account their carbon emissions do so with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. These standards classify a company’s GHG emissions into three scopes.

Many companies measure and report their carbon emissions in Scopes 1 and 2, from owned or controlled sources, or indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. Scope 3 is challenging as these emissions are more difficult to measure and verify, but they tend to account for most of a company’s emissions

Katherine’s team is helping clients to manage their carbon measurements and reporting within Scope 3 and creating sustainability action plans too. One of the bespoke solutions devised by WSP’s team to support with this is an embodied carbon accounting calculator, which is a tool to help with tracking the carbon footprint of materials in the construction sector.

While our regional teams leverage WSP’s global expertise, they must also use their knowledge of local requirements and challenges to find practical, region-specific solutions. Our solutions aren’t one size fits all, which is why a dedicated sustainability advisor can help to speed up the journey to net-zero.

The excitement about COP coming to the MENA region has been built, with some scepticism from our peers around the world, but for those countries and companies that do follow through and show their intent through responsible actions, the benefits could be great.

 

Will COP27 and 28 encourage greater climate action in the region?

Even with the UAE, KSA and Oman’s strong pledges at public sector level, in general our region is a little less mature in terms of taking on policies that encourage uptake compared to other parts of the world. For example, seven of the top ten best prepared countries for net-zero are in Europe, and Finland is going beyond net-zero and aiming to create environmental benefit to become climate positive.

MENA countries’ net-zero commitments

The excitement about COP coming to the MENA region has been built, with some scepticism from our peers around the world, but for those countries and companies that do follow through and show their intent through responsible actions, the benefits could be great.

Our teams have supported the designs for some unique sustainable projects in the Middle East such as the Etihad Arena, the Emirates Green Building Council’s 2018 Sustainable Building of the Year, for its flexibility and passive energy-reducing design strategies, as well as EXPO Route 2020, the world’s first mass infrastructure project to achieve LEED Gold rating.

With projects like these being noticed internationally, we are determined that even more developments with forward-thinking solutions will take the lead in showing the world that efforts really are being made in the MENA region to drive change and follow through on regional governments’ pledges, before COP28 in the UAE.

Companies can make themselves more attractive to the global investment community through reliable carbon accounting and reporting.

 

Government pledges show intention, but we need policies, action and transparency to drive change and engage stakeholders

Some of the responsibility in ensuring companies reach net-zero lies with governments and policy makers. Governments unfortunately cannot expect all companies to comply without taking the lead by providing practical recommendations and enforcing legislations.

“Carbon incentives or taxes, at least for certain industries or company sizes, can support in reducing emissions,” Katherine says. “We have seen success and positive results with this in other regions like with the European Climate Laws.”

We asked Fahdah Albusaily, Assistant Design Manager working in WSP’s Riyadh office about her perspectives on the impact of governmental initiatives. “It is clear that the global climate crisis needs concerted efforts around the world. Saudi Arabia is fully aware of its responsibility to advance the fight against climate change and is working to lead the next green era. Vision 2030 is a key player in this and the Saudi Green Initiative has been launched to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation and preserve marine life. This encourages us as individuals to make changes as well to protect the earth for the next generation.”

 

 

Companies can make themselves more attractive to the global investment community through reliable carbon accounting and reporting.

Katherine tells us investors globally are more frequently demanding reliable carbon accounting from the companies they invest in. “This is particularly effective in keeping companies accountable. The positive impact could be even greater if more awareness is raised about the benefits for those stakeholders involved”.

Greater investment into research and awareness could encourage a cultural shift that would allow for more action to be taken. More understanding would support organisations and individuals to know where their responsibilities lie, and actions that will make a difference. WSP aims to highlight the positives of climate resiliency solutions both for the environment and businesses, but we would be delighted to see greater awareness encouraged across the region.

As global sustainability leaders, we understand the importance of seeing through climate change pledges.

We have a crucial role to play in finding solutions to some of the world’s biggest environmental and social challenges, and with WSP’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions across our value chain by 2040, and by taking a Future Ready approach to all our client work, we aim to inspire solutions that are effective now, and well into the future.

Climate change is everyone’s issue, and we need to tackle it together.

We are determined that by next year’s COP28 in the UAE, we will be well on track towards making UAE 2050 a success.

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