In January this year the World Economic Forum published their WEF Global Risks Report 20212. The report contained the findings of their survey of more than 800 business, government and civil society leaders about perceived risks in years to come. When it came to the top risks by likelihood, four of the top five were environment related. Those risks were “Extreme Weather Events”, “Climate Change Inaction”, “Human Environmental Damage” and “Biodiversity Loss”.
It’s fair to say that in 2021, business leaders all understand how impactful the “Infectious Disease” risk is. We have seen it cause havoc across the globe, touching every aspect of our lives, changing working habits and producing unprecedented disruption on a global scale to business and their supply chain. As a likely economic risk, “Infectious Disease” came in only at number four in the WEF’s rankings. That puts the environmental risks in perspective.
Governments around the world have started to act. The UK got serious in 2019, and we in Guernsey put in place commitments last year to reach net zero. Implicit in those plans is that change is coming – specifically a change from the “brown economy” (that which relies on fossil fuels) to the “green economy” (one that is based on renewable sources of energy).
This will affect some business sectors more than others, but everyone will be affected in some way.
To really understand how it will affect your business you need to understand your emissions. You need to evaluate the risks to your business over the course of this transition. To thrive and grow you need to minimise those risks, reduce reliance on the brown economy and pivot towards the green economy in a carefully planned and managed way.
In the Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Guernsey Business Sustainability Survey, the number one reason for inaction around this subject was “Not knowing where to start”. The same answer came up in a similar survey in the UK that year, so it’s clearly a common problem. The will and the intent is often there, but the nettle has not yet been grasped. Let’s face it: it’s been a challenging few years for businesses!
Help is at hand though. There are huge amounts of high-quality resources available to businesses to help them on their sustainability journey. Chamber’s Sustainable Business Initiative is helping to share this knowledge with expert talks and practical events.
To start, you need business leadership buy in. You may be on the board and need to convince your colleagues; you may be an employee and want to flag this to the owner; you may be the owner yourself and just need to get up to speed. “Chapter Zero: A climate change boardroom toolkit” is an excellent tool for any of these jobs: it is a free resource that has been independently developed by a group of business leaders and academics to inform you and assess where you and your company is and encourage informed debate in your boardroom.
Download the PDF at www.chapterzero.org.uk.
So that is where you start. Go and download it and begin the conversation.
While net zero might seem like a daunting challenge, it’s worth remembering that change holds great opportunity for those who move early. In February 2020, analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a London-based think tank, showed that more than $39tn — about 49% of the world’s annual GDP — is generated by nations, regions and cities with an actual or intended net-zero target3. That is a big driver of change. Will your business be part of it?
Find out more about the Chamber of Commerce’s Sustainable Business Initiative on Facebook, or LinkedIn.
To read the full Spring/Summer 2021 edition of Contact Magazine, please click here.
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/third-of-uks-biggest- companies-commit-to-net-zero
2. The Global Risks Report 2021 | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
3. https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/features/gdp-net-zero- emissions/