This year, the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres labelled climate change as “the most systemic threat to humankind.”
Public opinion on the issue is sharpening and politicians are floundering in their response. In this setting, business leaders have an excellent opportunity to lead in the fight against global warming.
Taking a stand and showing guts on these issues can boost a businesses reputation. It can also help reduce your business’s carbon footprint and save money on your energy bills.
And now is the perfect time to do it.
A survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that more than nine in 10 people (92%) said businesses should take a stand on important social issues -like climate change.
In fact, 72% of people said that they would champion companies that stand up for what they believe in.
Adam Wilson, Associate Director at Opinium, which helped carry out the research, said:
“Consumers want businesses to be passionate about the issues that they are passionate about, be it equal pay or protecting the environment. Most importantly they want them to speak out about these issues and lead society in making positive changes.”
Businesses have already shown their willingness to respond to environmental issues this year. Just look at the thousands of companies that ditched plastic straws from pubs, restaurants and cafes in the wake of David Attenborough’s moving Blue Planet plea.
Environmental issues such as plastic waste is becoming more important for the public.
New research indicates that plastic will waste will become the number one issue for British shoppers – set to beat price in the next decade.
People are willing to pay more for biodegradable products, reflecting a growing sense of environmental responsibility.
Climate changes isn’t the same as plastic waste. The effects are not as immediate or direct. But it is more important for the health of the planet.
And people are becoming more aware of the consequences of inaction.
Businesses can capitalise on this intense public feeling. They can also benefit from a perceived inability to act from politicians. This summer, the chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) warned that UK politicians were ‘failing to rise to the challenge of climate change’.
Lord Deben said “anyone who reads the news” could see alarming trends like record heatwaves and rising sea levels “make the connections” between these events and the need for urgency.
As extreme weather events continue, the importance of climate change as an issue is only likely to rise.
Businesses getting behind clean energy
A growing number of businesses are battling climate change by switching to a renewable energy supply. More than a hundred of the world’s most influential companies have already made a commitment to shift to 100% renewable power under the RE100 initiative.
Businesses including Google, IKEA, British Land and M&S have pledged to take the switch to non-fossil fuel energy as part of the global scheme.
And it isn’t just big businesses either. More and more renewable energy tariffs are appearing for small and medium-sized businesses.
These tariffs don’t necessarily mean that the electricity powering your computers, lights and coffee machine come from renewable sources. Instead, they guarantee that energy you use offset by renewably-sourced power.
There is a long way to go though. Compared with other countries, businesses in Britain use up a lot more of the nation’s energy supply.
Heating in buildings and industry makes up 32% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, a 49% increase compared with 1996.
Industrial energy consumption in the UK is among the highest in the 26 countries that make up the International Energy Agency’s membership.