Businesses are in the best position to influence leaders and reduce climate impact
Businesses are in the best position to influence political leaders and government. Ban Ki-moon’s, Secretary General of the United Nations, key message at COP 22 was to urge businesses to increase their climate commitment. He noted that “business have an enormous” role to play in reducing our climate impact. All eyes and ears are now on President-elect Trump’s plans for carbon and environmental policies when he enters the White House. The world has just over a month to influence the businessman come politician with a united private sector front for climate action and reduced fossil fuel emissions.
COP 22 marked the emergence of the private sector and businesses action on climate. The ‘We mean business coalition’ has to date 673 companies and investors committed to taking climate action on named initiatives, with 365 reaffirming their commitment at COP 22. The research report ‘The Business End of Climate Change’, launched on Tuesday 28 June at the Business & Climate Summit in London’s Guildhall, showed that businesses have the potential to save as much as China’s annual emissions by 2030 (10bn metric tons of CO2 equivalent a year), getting us more than halfway to a sub-two-degree warming target. All businesses however, big or small, can influence and make a difference to our climate impact!
The Huffington Post announced that some businesses are going further than this and announcing aspirations to be carbon neutral in just 35 years. With others signing up to long-term climate goals, as stated in The Times, and leading the charge on low carbon innovative technologies. The Climate Group announced that businesses looking at their supply chains can increase the influence and impact that business has.
Being sustainable and reducing environmental and social impacts is good for business. Renewables and more efficient practices and technologies provide efficiencies, resilience and conservation that fossil fuels do not. Good practice can include travel policies reducing flights, lower energy use, more efficient technology including lighting, and renewable energy sources. RE100 (Renewable Energy 100), one of the ‘We mean business coalition’ named initiatives, has grown in membership by over a half with 30 new businesses joining in 2016, reaching 83 businesses committing to being 100% renewable.
Our clients are also leading the way; Dentsu Aegis Network has committed to RE100 by aiming to “source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020… through their new CSR Strategy called ‘Future Proof 2020’”, Nick Priday, Group Chief Financial Officer explains, as well as having their own ‘Green Pledges’ to support COP 22. Another of our clients, ASOS, is working with us to assess the feasibility of renewables at their new distribution centre in Berlin.
Climate action is not only for large international organisations; small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can have a huge influence on the direction of the UKs climate policies too. Over 95% of businesses are SMEs with over 50% of business employees. A new ERDF programme – Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) – is helping to grow the local low carbon industry by supporting SMEs to install low carbon technologies and reduce their carbon impact.
Businesses can make a huge difference to the UK’s carbon budget by improving their resilience through low carbon technologies and best practice. Organisations with a long-term view already committed and taking action to implement methods to reduce their climate impact and increase their influence – if you mean businesses, do your part today.