The world needs Asia to address climate change — if not, net-zero emissions will be out of reach, the CEO of a Japanese beverage giant said this week.
Asia plays an important role in addressing climate change, Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami said, speaking to CNBC as part of the virtual Sustainable Future Forum.
“Unless Asia makes all effort to tackle sustainability issues, the world will not be able to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said. “Asia is the key for the world to achieve the 2050 goal.”
Carbon neutrality is achieved when there’s a net-zero release of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because an equal amount of emissions has been removed.
Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries aim to reach peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible so that they can reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Niinami said the region was “left out” when rules and standards on climate goals were established.
“The rules made by or shaped by the west are not accurately applied to Asia,” he said, noting that there are “huge differences” between various countries in the region.
Suntory is part of the Sustainability Leaders Council, an effort to advance sustainability in Asia.
Niinami also outlined Suntory’s goals of fulfilling its sustainability commitments by 2030 and 2050. That includes reducing water consumption, switching to recycled plastic and reducing emissions.
The goals are “definitely challenging,” but are important for the business, he said.
Niinami said the company will make “every effort” to reach its goals earlier because “2050 might be too late” to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit].
Countries under the Paris Agreement agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the threshold that scientists say could stave off the worst impact of global warming.
“Addressing sustainability issues is not an option for us,” Niinami said. “It’s an absolute must in order to survive.”