On the 9th and 10th October 2018 business leaders in sustainability including Lego, Kellogg’s and Microsoft came together for the Companies vs Climate Change in Amsterdam. The purpose was to share insights, approaches and challenges in order to improve our collective progress in reducing businesses impact on society and the environment.
TLC were in attendance, and the message is clear. In order to tackle some of the toughest challenges in reducing the effects of business on climate change businesses, organisations and Governments need to work much more closely together to get further faster. As one speaker noted “it is much easier to change the behaviours and actions of thousands of businesses rather than millions of people”.
Here are some key take outs from the two-day conference. Think about each of these points, wherever you are on your sustainability journey. Question the role your business plays for the benefit of society and the planet rather than its role of delivering value to shareholders.
Changing the business mindset. OK, there is no getting away from the fact that the purpose of business is to make money. Sustainability costs my business money, right? So being a more sustainable business will effect my bottom line. Wrong. More and more businesses across all sectors are now experiencing quite the opposite. Ask around. Do your homework. To change the business mindset, first you must create the desire. So, back to money. Start looking at the economic value of the sustainable programmes your business could activate. Simply providing the data on how many tonnes of carbon emissions your business has saved will not provide the desire for change. Calculate the financial reward the programme will have. Now you have created the desire for change.
View competitiveness differently – it’s time to collaborate. The targets detailed in IPCC special report on global warming are tough. To achieve such goals it will be essential to collaborate with others. The investment is high. But the risks to businesses is far higher, as Kellogg’s has shown us. Engagement and inclusion is the right strategy. Collaborate with your supply chain, NGOs, conduct research projects to find solutions to lowering environmental impacts, and work with Governments to change policies. Another example is the transportation sector, which contributes 25% of the total green house gas emissions. Andreas Follér, Sustainability Manager at Scania Group predicts a 25% saving through logistics efficiencies. This is a big number with a equally large reduction on climate change, but requires significant investment. Think about who you can partner with on your climate change reduction projects. They may already have a similar project in the planning or already initiated.
Incentivise action. ING, a global financial institution that serve customers in over 40 countries. Sustainability forms an integral part of ING’s strategy. As part of their strategy they offer reduced rates of interest to those businesses that are actively involved in reducing their impact on the environment. ING’s strategy is a great example of how business can incentivise customers to be more responsible and to actively seek ways to reduce their impact on climate change. Employees are also an important part of climate change action. Think about how you can build in climate change reduction activities into employee appraisal processes, which provides a practical solution to incentivising employees into action.
Final word…Monetising the effects of climate change to business is the first step to building the business case for taking action against climate change. Investigate the effects of doing nothing on your business – what are the implications of climate change to my business? Kellogg’s have shown us that the effects are happening right now. Explore what actions you can take to reduce your impact on climate change, with a focus on their financial returns and the highest level of impact.
Creative Thinker & Founder
Jon is Creative Thinker & Founder of Thinking loud & clear. Jon helps build strong brands that create positive change. That positive change might be increasing membership, increasing customer loyalty or gaining a competitive advantage.