COP26: why businesses need to take climate action

earth with sun behind it

COP26, the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties, was held in Glasgow from 31st October- 12th November 2021. With almost 200 countries attending the COP26 summit, the conference has seen global coverage and have many asking if this is the turning point in the start of real climate action. Cynthia Cummis, a director at global research non-profit the World Resources Institute, says ‘COP26 is being labelled as a ‘make or break’ moment for concrete action to move countries and business in the right direction on climate issues.’ “Climate change is one of the biggest business risks of our time, and COP26 is a chance to ensure action is being taken quickly enough to prevent the irreversible consequences of climate change and limit global warming to 1.5°C.”

Zellar’s COO, Peter Charlesworth, attended COP26 and had this to say, ‘COP26 has been a great forum to raise awareness, expose the climate issues and set top level objectives politically. The reality we all know is that loose wording, pledges without dates and phase down without phase-out positioning have all exposed the issues and perpetrators on a world stage. More and more hard-working people will be demanding action for change. As this gain’s momentum, as I am sure it will, no country can afford to hide behind these weasel words to excuse inaction.’

How are businesses addressing climate change? And what more needs to be done?

Since the Paris Agreement, there has been increased efforts by large businesses to be seen as combatting climate change, with one fifth of Fortune 2000 companies making some form of commitment to net zero by February 2021. However that means there are still 71% of Fortune 2000 companies who have yet to make any pledge.

And with SMEs, the struggle is even greater, many sight a lack of regulatory certainty, high price for investments and uncertainty around new technologies as barriers to climate action. The British Chamber of commerce survey showed that just 24% of businesses with more than 50 employees measure their carbon footprint, 9% of 10-49 employees and just 5% with less than 10 employees.  It is clear to see that what businesses crave is direction. The COP26 summit needs to offer SMEs guidance in what they need to do now and in the coming years. By giving clarity, businesses can invest in green opportunities, knowing it is an investment for their future.

Why should businesses be taking climate action?

First and foremost, taking climate action will help protect our environment. However, from a strategic perspective, businesses need to understand the value becoming a sustainable business brings. Many SMEs see climate action as something that is complicated, time-consuming and expensive however the narrative needs to be changed so they recognise it is a help rather than a hindrance. There needs to be more emphasis on how businesses can benefit from adopting greener practices such as improving efficiency, reducing energy costs and attracting new talent.

How can businesses help fight climate change?

SMEs may believe that they play a small role in climate change due to the size of their business however collectively they can have a hugely beneficial impact. Businesses have a critical role in climate action both in reducing emissions in their operations, supply chain and to meet government and customer demands.

What climate action does your business need to take?

Zellar’s COO, Peter Charlesworth, said ‘For each company, there is an opportunity to seize the initiative, differentiate themselves from their competition and take direct action on sustainability and Net Zero. When they do, they must publicise their actions. Customers and suppliers will choose where to spend their money. I have faith that humanity will choose wisely, those companies taking action now will benefit, those that don’t will lose their business.’

  • Measure

Understand where you are now by measuring your carbon footprint. Zellar offers a free carbon calculator so you can examine your current impact. Carbon Footprint Calculator for Business – Sustainability Software | Zellar

  • Benchmark

See how you fare against your competitors. It is important to be aware of current industry standards towards climate change. Zellar offers benchmarking in 64 sectors so you can find out how your business compares today.

  • Invest

Investing in greener practices such as green technology can increase your business’s efficiency and reduce your emissions. Zellar gives tailored suggestions on what green tech is best based on your sectors.

  • Offsetting and biodiversity projects

Participating in these projects is a great way to help local environments and communities. Zellar offers UK and international offsetting projects as well as local biodiversity projects.

  • Communicate

Promoting your sustainability journey is crucial in letting your employees, stakeholders and customers that you are committed to becoming a sustainable business and inspiring other businesses to do the same. Zellar gives you all the tools you need to communicate your journey to Net Zero.

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