Business action in a time of climate emergency
An organisation not managing its risks in relation to the environment is no longer an option.
Business as usual is contributing to the rapidly growing problem of more and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to man made climate change.
With the recent declaration from the UK government of a national climate and nature emergency and, importantly, much increasing awareness from customers on the challenge we are facing, people are looking for companies that can provide better alternatives and that are clear on their responsibility to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is front and central to societal demand. Evidence suggests that companies would do well to appease concerns. A recent survey found that more than half of consumers are striving to minimise their personal footprint and 45% only seek products or services from businesses that have a good track record when it comes to climate change. As pressure increases on politicians to set not only ambitious targets to fulfill international commitments but to follow these up with clear policies and actions to realise such commitments, stronger regulations is to be expected on all organisations to reduce their impact.
In my recent blog “What climate emergency mean to business“, I suggested that organisations of all sizes are better off to show leadership and take action now to meet expectations from customers, shareholders and investors as well as existing and future workforce, rather than to be a laggard only meeting minimum standards or waiting for regulation to come into place. Companies who want to be winners and show leadership in a rapidly changing environment must challenge themselves to go further. The changes in consumer, investor and policymaker awareness of the climate crisis presents a whole host of challenges and it also means opportunities. This could be opportunities to innovate, like new products or services, and it also includes new opportunities to engage with people; to develop a more loyal customer base, more engaged employees and to attract brilliant new talent.
OK, I hear you say, I get it, but where do I start and how?
The first step is to get the own house in order. Ecotricity was one of the first organisations to publicly declare a climate emergency. Dale Vince, the CEO of Ecotricity and also the owner of football team Forest Green Rovers, has announced that Ecotricity will pursue a carbon-neutral goal for 2025. Last year, Forest Green Rovers was the world’s first UN certified carbon-neutral football club.
To be carbon neutral, or to have a net-zero carbon footprint, means that an entity (or a product or a service) will either completely eliminate its carbon emissions or ensure that the emissions that still occur are balanced out by carbon offsetting elsewhere (for example, planting trees that would capture as much carbon as the entity, product or service emits).
Does that sound big? Here are some ideas to get going;
Don’t be afraid to start small. It’s more important to start and do something rather than not doing anything at all thinking it will not make a difference. It will. Then – keep improving.
Inspire everyone in your business to take part. Whatever the role of an employee it is very likely that they have an amount of responsibility and can act accordingly to reduce their carbon impact. Invite ideas and suggestions and empower employees to get on with actions.
Communicate confidently and honestly. To win customers there is a need for authenticity and transparency, showing where the business is going, how it is getting there and by when.
Make sustainability and carbon reduction part of what you do by focusing on the core business. Think about what the main objective of the organisation is and how it goes about achieving it.
In the same way as a single individual can change her lifestyle and have an impact beyond by buying goods and services that are in line with her values, so can an organisation. This influence on the supply chain both upstream and downstream is very powerful and will lead to greater positive impact beyond the organisational borders.
Don’t know where to start? Ready to take action?
Get in touch for a free carbon strategy discussion.