Learning the Art of Decarbonisation with Climate Action Accelerator

On April 24th, 2024, the Social Innovation Lab staying true to its mission of encouraging organisation wide learning, welcomed Bruno Jochum, the Executive Director of Climate Action Accelerator, a Geneva based non-profit battling climate change by mobilising emission reduction solutions. Outside the venue of the learning session however, the nation was on a 72 hour long heat alert, responding to the worst heatwave the country has faced in the last five decades.

In COP21 of 2015, leaders came together and vowed to keep the global average temperature rise well below 1.5°C-2°C. Nine years in, the world is currently witnessing worsening conditions of the climate, prompting organisations to come together to keep the aforementioned goal.

Climate Action Accelerator is one of many not-for-profit associations supporting organisations in this mission, by empowering organisations to cut their emissions in half by 2030 and strengthen their resilience through a hub of expertise and resources. The goal is to help move the aid, health and higher education sectors towards a radical transformation of their practices, pursuing emission reduction targets (-50% by 2030) and a ‘net zero’ trajectory, in line with the Paris Agreement, as shared by Bruno while introducing the Accelerator. The association works with 25 partners engaged in knowledge sharing to accelerate implementations in priority areas: travel, procurement, energy, infrastructure, waste and capacity building.

We learned that Climate Action Accelerator’s acceleration model works with projects in three stages –

  • The Lab where they design, test and learn with pilot partners
  • Capacity building through which they transfer and deploy change at scale
  • Domino effect which amplifies to tilt sectors and beyond

While frameworks are helpful and help maintain a structure, sometimes these frameworks also fail when working with communities. As such, in a dynamic landscape of low carbon emission initiatives like this, the primary need is to look out for integrated approaches that help the community. Although communities respond well to these climate approaches, it’s imperative to understand why communities adapt to emission alternatives.

From Bruno’s experience of working in Chad, communities appreciate these initiatives because of cost effectiveness and reliability. People want solutions that won’t hurt their pockets and will keep their livelihood alive. And Climate Action Accelerator therefore discards any solution that may have a negative impact on services. With that in mind, the accelerator is building sectoral expertise on cost and savings simulation models, among other strengths.

To give a glimpse on the emission scenario, Bruno highlighted the healthcare sector that contributes to 5-6% of global emissions, surprisingly twice the level of emissions occurring in  the aviation industry. From infrastructure and construction to heating and cooling, the sector has taken a dynamic shift in their service models and offerings that contributed to increased emissions. While the shift is necessary to improve lives, there is scope to improve medical waste management.

The hour that we spent learning in depth about how the accelerator supports organisations in their pursuit of  decarbonisation, eventually led to us quickly walk through BRAC’s own waste management initiatives; including that of BRAC Healthcare and the steps taken by BRAC to use laptops instead of desktops, LEDs and opting out of using single use plastics to ensure decarbonisation across the organisation. And while we’re happy to have taken these steps, we recognise there’s more that we aim to do.

Subeh Tarek is an intern with the Social Innovation Lab, who likes to paint her own little world on canvases in her free time.

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