There is talk of limiting global warming to 2 ºC as if there were room for manoeuvre, when in reality we are just 0.9 ºC from crossing that threshold. There is also talk of improving access to water and energy by 2030, but there are currently 800 million people without access to drinking water, 500 million without electricity and more than twice that number in a situation of energy poverty.
Though posited as long-term goals, the solutions proposed for the year 2030 via the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are urgent, and we all have an obligation to achieve them; there is no room for empty promises. For the first time, the global objectives adopted by 195 countries set the guidelines for the public and private sector and civil society. Many companies are redirecting their businesses towards models that are more respectful of the environment and of people.
Contribution of companies to ODS
Every industry must make a contribution, though the energy industry, which accounts for over two-thirds of global emissions, has a greater burden of responsibility. ACCIONA, a company focused mainly on renewable energy, infrastructure, water and services, contributes to the SDGs to varying degrees through its business lines.
This year, ACCIONA became carbon-neutral, meaning that all the pollutant emissions that could not be abated were offset by purchasing emission certificates from environmentally and socially responsible projects. The company pursued this goal out of a real conviction of the need to combat climate change, which is SDG number 13. While the Paris Agreement calls on the whole world to be carbon neutral by the second half of this century, it is actually an urgent issue, and ACCIONA has already achieved this goal.
In order to combat climate change, access to clean energy is the solution, as set out in SDG number 7. Once seen as merely an alternative, renewable energy is now a mainstay of the energy system of the future. In 2016, ACCIONA produced clean energy equivalent to the needs of 6 million households and avoided the emission of 14.8 million tons of CO₂.
As regards access to water, which is a human right, ACCIONA's water treatment plants generated a positive water footprint in 2016 equivalent to the annual water consumption of 10 million people. Throughout its history, ACCIONA has met the needs of more than 100 million people in 30 countries, responding to one of the great environmental challenges facing humanity.
Infrastructure, referred to in SDG 9, was, is and will be the cornerstone of sustainable development in any economy, due to its key role in meeting present and future needs. ACCIONA responded to this need mainly through social, transport and services infrastructure projects in 40 countries during 2016.
All parties must work together to achieve the SDGs, and these challenges must be viewed as a common project. After all, we make up a single interdependent world whose resources, such as water, land and biodiversity, are limited. There is no other way to maintain the world economy within the constraints of the only planet we have.