Sustainia’s CEO, Rasmus Schjødt Pedersen, is en route to New York for the UN Climate Action Summit, led by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. As the summit approaches, he shares some expectations for the week ahead.

The Climate Action Summit kicks off the UN Climate Week in New York. Leaders from the public and private sectors will come together to ratchet ambition for climate action, and businesses will share insights converting these ambitions into actions and impact. The Summit will also add momentum to the 1.5˚C campaign: a call to action for companies to set emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5˚C scenario. In collaboration with the UNGC and DNV GL, Sustainia has produced a report for the summit outlining the business solutions, strategies, and mindsets for a 1.5˚C future. Ahead of the Summit and the 1.5˚C Business Leadership report, Rasmus shares some of his thoughts.

A whole that is greater than the sum of its parts
There have and will continue to be many important summits calling businesses to climate action, but Rasmus believes none can stand alone as a single revolutionary trigger of sustainable business transformations. Albeit important, this Summit is just one contributing to a greater movement, which is far greater than the sum of such events.


“The Summit is no silver bullet, but will crucially demonstrate the value of 1.5˚C business leadership.”

Rasmus Schjødt Pedersen, CEO, Sustainia

Joining the campaign is not a free ticket — there is much more to be done
Rasmus sees joining the 1.5˚C campaign as the first step in a series of potentially difficult but necessary actions for businesses. Companies that have joined the campaign send a powerful signal to others and, through this Summit especially, can showcase the business solutions, strategies, and mindsets aligned with their 1.5˚C commitments. With many challenges to overcome, Rasmus believes that these companies can turn risk to opportunity and capitalise on new business opportunities, inspiring others to follow suit.

Science-based targets are a tool we must help each other to use
Science-based targeting is a contemporary development that can be difficult to understand and to operationalise, but more can be done to develop it and to encourage its wider adoption. It is a tool to be used — and businesses and governments must help each other to use it. Rasmus sees a growing role for advisory firms like Sustainia to help businesses use such tools.

Frameworks and business successes must be amplified with stories
There are various frameworks for sustainable business practices that are in competition with each other, so we we need the frontrunners that are utilising them to tell their stories for others to understand the real-world viability of these frameworks, and for these to gain traction. The 1.5˚C campaign provides leaders with an important framework that is both practical and symbolic, capable of guiding business decisions and bonding participating companies as pioneers.


Rasmus stresses that “the 1.5˚C stories must be told in order to inspire and drive action at scale”.


The 1.5˚C framework is a response to the new market realities
Companies are making 1.5˚C-aligned commitments not as purely moral or ethical decisions, but as truly competitive business decisions. The 1.5˚C business leaders are not a family bonded by moral courage or science-based business practices — they are responding to the new market realities in which climate change is dramatically reshaping resources, stakeholder needs, and consumer demands. The 1.5˚C framework offers guidance and structure for new business efforts, and equips companies with the inspiration, resources and networks necessary to thrive in this new business era.

Looking ahead
As the Climate Action Summit plays out, how will Rasmus’ preliminary thoughts be challenged or fortified? In a post-Summit interview, we will delve into his experience and reflections to explore how these thoughts may have evolved. In the meantime, the 1.5˚C Business Leadership report will provide further details of the 1.5˚C campaign, showcasing solutions, strategies and mindsets for our only future. It will be available for download on September 23rd at 12pm Copenhagen time.