6 ways your business can become a climate leader
This year, polls show that environmental concerns have risen to the forefront of the nation’s priorities for the first time in decades. What can a small business do with its strategy to address those concerns?
On 1 May 2019, the UK Government declared a climate emergency. The reasons are many, but perhaps some of the most concerning ones are:
- There are 60 harvests left in the UK, due to intensive farming. This means the Country can only feed us for the next 60 years without serious change. If the change doesn’t happen life could be disastrous for our grandchildren.
- 200 species are going extinct every day. 80,000 are expected to go extinct in the next 10 years. The current rate of extinction is faster than at the time of the dinosaur extinction. Some countries around the world are already reporting a 98% reduction in insects compared to 35 years ago. Humans rely on the food chain. How are we going to eat?
- The Arctic is melting. That’s well known. What is less well known, is that there is methane underneath it. Methane as a greenhouse gas is far worse than CO2. If the artic melts to the point that the methane is released, known as a Tipping Point, human extinction cannot be stopped. Ice is currently melting at levels not expected until 2090. (Still hoping for grandchildren?)
Well, perhaps you've been lied to. Did you know oil companies collectively pay $200m to PR consultants creating climate denial rumours?
98% of scientists agree that humans created the crisis. That’s more than the 95% of scientists believe that smoking and cancer are linked. We all accept that connection, so with even more consensus, isn’t it right-minded to believe that the climate emergency is real?
So, it’s all doom and gloom, isn’t it?
No, actually it isn’t. If we all mobilise, there is still time to stop the worst of outcomes. This is where a business of any size can show great leadership. This time of crisis could be your finest hour.
What can you do?
Declare a climate emergency as your key business strategy
Great leaders are made in a crisis. Consider Richard Branson’s handling of Virgin in the late 1980s/ early 1990s. Whatever you may think of his later policies, consider Tony Blair’s response at the time of the 07/07 crisis. Can you be this good?
Larger businesses are taking this seriously. Think Marks and Spencer ‘Plan A’ Sustainability Program. Think Iceland’s recent strategies – their palm oil advert went viral. How can you create your own?
Start by declaring your own climate emergency. The continue by setting a Net Zero net carbon emissions target by 2030.
Tell the Truth
Talk to your key stakeholders; from staff to suppliers, to customers. Be honest about your carbon footprint. Whatever products you use, highlight their carbon footprint to your customers.
When companies fail to tell the truth, when they fail to directly deal with their own carbon footprint, they are creating a PR nightmare waiting to happen. Larger companies already experience boycotts because they have come down on the wrong side of the argument. Smaller companies will be next.
So, lead from the front. Create a PR dream instead of that nightmare. Be a company that can shout about its Climate Credentials. It’s good business to help the planet
Think of the Quick Wins – Educate, Educate, Educate
Talk to individuals (customers, suppliers and staff) about what they can do to cut their own carbon footprint.
Encourage plant-based diets and flexitarianism. Cut business air travel. Cut driving to meetings where you can, by using online meeting conferencing software.
Cut your plastic. Only 9% of recyclable products actually get recycled. So reduction is the name of the game. If you provide single-use plastic such as water or coffee cups, plastic cutlery, sponges and handwash, rethink the strategy. Find sustainable non-destructive alternatives.
Pay it Backwards
Demand the same standards of your suppliers that you set on yourself. Ask them to set zero net carbon emission standards. Demand your suppliers have no single-use plastic on their premises, including industrial shrink wrap.
Help your suppliers set a business strategy of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 (as have many councils across the UK) to follow your good example.
1 revolution of 1 wind turbine, will power 1 house for 1 day. How much energy is your business generating? Can you go beyond energy neutral? Can you generate energy for your business and the surrounding areas? There is an energy crisis coming. How are your staff and customers going to live if they have no energy in their homes? Businesses need to step up and provide the shortfall.
How many habitats do you have at each of your premises? Micro ponds? Butterfly, bee and insects’ houses? Bird boxes? Beehives?
The insect population is the foundation of the food chain. If the insect population dies, the food chain crumbles and that means worldwide extinction.
Create habitats that can sustain micro populations. You’ll be creating a wonderful place for your customers to visit as well as helping biodiversity.
Business as normal is no longer acceptable
However, you can lead from the front and be the first to get that advantage over your competitors. Seize the future and make net zero carbon emissions a reality. Be ahead of the game and you can help the planet as your business thrives.