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Sustainable Business Q2 2022

Net zero offers us a pathway to something better

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Gudrun Cartwright

Environmental Director, Business in the Community (BITC)

It’s time for a fair and inclusive transition to a net zero, resilient future where people and nature thrive. Let’s get on with it.

The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) recently shared that more than 2,000 companies, equal to a third of global market capitalisation. They have set science-based targets, with two-thirds of goals being compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.1 This is encouraging, but there is still much to do.

Business in the Community (BITC)’s research found that out of a survey of 2,000 companies, 45% of UK companies do not have a target or plan to cut carbon in line with UK Government targets and do not intend to produce one.2

It’s clear there is a gulf between commitments being made and those needed. However, our research suggests the public are also sceptical about whether businesses will follow through on their commitments. Almost two-thirds of the 8,000 people surveyed don’t trust companies to do what they promise.3

This scepticism seems to be supported by the 2022 Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor, whose review of climate commitments and plans from 25 major global companies did not award any high integrity scores.

Almost two-thirds of the 8,000 people surveyed don’t trust companies to do what they promise.

What it would take to change

In a world of growing instability, spiralling costs of living and increasing ill health from pollution, stress and a culture that encourages sedentary consumption, net zero offers us a pathway to something better.

We need to design good jobs that regenerate our infrastructure and build community assets. We need more active lifestyles, more nutritious food, better relationships and shared goals with our neighbours. We can establish flourishing global networks that share learning. And ultimately, we can become creators rather than consumers. 

Our destiny is in our hands

Inaction is no longer an option. Unless we’re happy to be the ones that wilfully created a world that is worse for future generations because the status quo is comfortable. How we live and work will change regardless.

Either we continue to hope that technology will save us at some point, or we design the future. Businesses, government, individuals and communities must unite towards a common good. This will be complex and messy, requiring compromise and collaboration. But also, a huge adventure. Time to act is short, but the rewards are worth playing for.

[1] https://sciencebasedtargets.org/reports/sbti-progress-report-2021
[2] https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/the-right-climate-for-business-leading-a-just-transition/
[3] https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/the-right-climate-for-business-leading-a-just-transition/

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