Reflections on Climate Action Impact vs Time

by Tom Ryan

People often ask me to define climate governance. I tell them that it’s about working with organizations to ensure they have the right tools to assess the global impact of their value chains, and then making sure they are governing their businesses (a.k.a. being led by their directors) to manage the impact on climate.

The old management adage that you can only manage what you measure can be a helpful reminder in these conversations. The value of quantifying climate impact all the way upstream to the start of the supply chain, and then downstream to the end of the product’s life is often unclear to managers and directors. It’s an incremental process which is full of imperfections at the start of the journey, but which improves with each iteration. Irrelevant information is quickly purged from the process, while critical data are identified and processes to collect it are reinforced. Acting on this information becomes management and guiding the organization to maximize value (to the organization, but also to the biosphere) then becomes governance.

The inspiring Solitaire Townshend at Futerra illustrates the impact of climate action over time. The cumulative impact of billions of individual and organizational decisions over time will lead to an accelerating ability to steer the climate ship in the right direction. The success of individuals and organizations as we head down this path will depend on their ability to recognize this trend and the quality of their governance in adapting to it.

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