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East meets West

29 April, 2021

When we write about climate, it’s typically in reference to how it’s changing and what we can do about it. Having recently relocated from Southeast Asia to the UK (this is Louise here – the newest addition to the Good Business team!), my change in climate has been of a different sort – not only from tropical to temperate, but also from one sustainability scene to another.  

With an ambitious net zero target and an upcoming global climate conference, the UK is poised to emerge as a world climate leader. Accordingly, businesses are taking ambitious action, with the UK second only to the USA in terms of the number of science-based climate targets set by its companies. Contrast this with Southeast Asian nations, which, according to our calculations, collectively account for just 1.3% of all targets and you understand my need for adjustments – and not just to the thermostat.  

The good news is that Southeast Asian businesses are increasingly talking about sustainability, with Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore all demonstrating higher corporate sustainability reporting rates than the global average. While the words may not yet be matched by urgent climate action, the subject is certainly on the table. 

Southeast Asian nations’ blistering pace of economic development, coupled with the region’s unique vulnerability to the effects of climate change, will make these countries important players in climate action in the years ahead. As the UK presses on with its climate ambitions and as UK businesses follow suit, both would do well to consider the ways in which the institutional knowledge and technological developments they gain can be shared for the betterment of all. 

By Louise Podmore

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