Climate Action Director, Business in the Community
COP26 brought world leaders together to debate and agree the next phase of action to transition our world to a resilient, net zero carbon economy. Business must play its part if we are going to successfully avert climate catastrophe.
A criticism levelled at COP26 was that it was a ‘corporate greenwash-fest’. Having been in Glasgow for 10 days, I can see why activists might feel this way. I certainly felt privileged and well taken care of, with access to both the blue and green zones and opportunities to join many important and interesting conversations. But I also saw how the protestors were not and the frustration felt at being kept at arms’ length.
The role of business in society
I believe that business has a critical role to play in transitioning society in ways that are fair and inclusive for people and nature and am often inspired by stories from members of Business in the Community (BITC). COP has shown us that this is not the case for everyone.
In advance of the summit, BITC surveyed 8,000 people with YouGov and found that the British public either do not think that business is doing enough to tackle the climate crisis, or they have no idea what they are doing: whether they are employees or customers of companies. They do not feel like employers are preparing them to adapt1. They do not have confidence that the impacts of the climate crisis or work to transition the economy – positive or negative – will be shared fairly across society. And they don’t believe that business will follow through on the commitments they are making.
We are challenging business to step up and move beyond action for net zero. To build resilience. Cocreate and implement plans that deliver tangible results with stakeholders from diverse communities.
Building public trust
In short, trust must be built, with both the climate activists and the public at large. So we are challenging business to step up and move beyond action for net zero. To build resilience. Cocreate and implement plans that deliver tangible results with stakeholders from diverse communities. Find new ways to communicate, so that people can easily understand the impact business is having.
BITC’s new Seven Steps for Climate Action toolkit will help businesses ensure they are part of delivering a fair and inclusive transition to a resilient, net zero economy where people and nature can thrive. We know many businesses are doing brilliant work on one or more of the steps, but no company is excelling at all of them. As COP26 ends, it is time for business to get to work to prove people wrong and deliver the future that people want to see.
 YouGov research for Business in the Community on Just Transition. October 2021. https://www.bitc.org.uk/news/only-one-in-10-people-believe-tackling-climate-change-will-negatively-impact-their-job/