Courtesy Esther An

Esther An is chief sustainability officer at City Developments Ltd. (CDL), one of the largest real estate developers in Southeast Asia, where she helped the company achieve a 24% reduction in carbon emissions intensity in 2022 (from 2016). CDL is now on track to meet its Science Based Targets Initiative-validated target of a 63% reduction by 2030. Meanwhile, it reported nearly $28 million in savings from energy-efficient retrofitting and initiatives across its commercial buildings.

What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?

2023 is set to be the hottest year on record. In the next year, accelerating the transformation of sustainable cities and communities remains critical to advancing global climate action. Fifty-six percent of the global population lives in cities, representing 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Rapid urbanization has come at the expense of climate, nature, and the economy. Forty-four percent of global GDP in cities is estimated to be at risk of disruption from nature loss. As a global real estate company committed to “conserving as we construct” since 1995, CDL will continue to accelerate innovative and impactful climate action through collaborations with the public, private, and people sectors. Our climate will not change for the better without a critical mass to drive sustainable policies and practices towards a sustainable future.

Where should climate activism go in the next year?

I take pride in advancing corporate climate activism to raise awareness about and adoption of green building and sustainability in our large community of stakeholders. Next year, activism should focus on waking up individual consumers’ consciousness on responsible consumption. When the demand for green products rises, responsible production will accelerate. We need to reach out to the masses for collaborative action. CDL’s zero-energy Singapore Sustainability Academy and Green Gallery are pioneering ground-up facilities that have effectively reached out to hundreds of thousands of stakeholders to support climate action.

What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?

Nations that make net-zero pledges should have their commitments regulated so that stakeholders are empowered to scrutinize corporate sustainability initiatives and push for more progress.

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