Leaders emerge when stakes are high.
And when it comes to climate change, the stakes can't be any higher. Greenhouse gas emissions are changing the planet, warming it from pole to pole. To prove it, NASA points to science. Global temperatures—driven by the highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years—have risen by more than 2°F.
Two degrees. A small number, sure, but one with incredible impacts.
Higher temperatures mean warmer oceans, melting ice caps and rising sea levels. It means more moisture in the atmosphere, which leads to more frequent and severe weather events—hurricanes, floods, droughts and even deep freezes—that change our lives, disrupt our businesses and impact our food supplies.
These are big problems that require even bigger solutions.
But when it comes to climate, the solution is not one size fits all. Because the problem isn't one size fits all.
At Michelin's Movin'On Summit, held virtually in June, Nancy Vandycke, program manager for Sustainable Mobility For All, took part in a panel discussion examining the global impact of climate and transportation's role in responding to it.
"We see a growing green divide between the countries in the global north and the countries in the global south in terms of responsibility and in terms of the solutions being proposed," Vandycke said. "In terms of responsibility, it is very clear that most of the emissions are coming from the largest economies, which are high-income economies.
"The G20," she said, "contributes to 80 percent of carbon emissions."
It's not just the biggest, wealthiest countries contributing to the problem, it's the transportation sector. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that in 2019, transportation was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
So it makes sense that transportation would be called on to help reduce emissions. And the industry is stepping up: Auto makers and their partners are moving quickly to transition to lower-emission electric vehicles.
In doing so, leaders have emerged across the rubber industry. From materials solutions to finished goods, businesses are making big strides. Companies are embracing bio-based materials and designing more sustainable products. They're finding ways to recycle their products and manufacture using recyclable materials, all while harnessing solar energy to power their operations.
These are solutions—big solutions—that work. But they aren't the only solutions.
"That narrative is largely led by countries in the global north that see electrification as a way out, as a global solution," Vandycke said. "Unfortunately, in the global south, those solutions are not accessible because they are much more expensive or, frankly, not adaptive."
That means finding more solutions, those that support the smallest countries, too. And this is a space where the rubber industry has much to offer.
Ours is an industry finding ways to conserve energy in our homes. It's an industry building microscopic parts that keep our hearts pumping and making the PPE that has kept us safe through a global pandemic.
This is the industry whose innovations helped to put humans on the moon and today allow us to explore worlds we never imagined.
If we can do all of that, imagine the solutions we can devise to address climate change tomorrow.