Why business leaders should act on climate
More than a third (35%) of UK employees are ready to quit their jobs if their employers fail to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint. The feeling is even stronger amongst Gen Z, with over half (53%) of 18-24-year-olds thinking about leaving their employers because of their inaction over climate change.
Our recent survey of 2,000 UK office workers revealed that while climate action remains front-of-mind for employees, many don’t see that reflected in their employers’ sustainability efforts. This disparity could cause serious problems for businesses already facing the effects of today’s difficult macroeconomic climate.
The talent market is stagnant, with UK unemployment falling to its lowest level since 1974. If businesses want to survive in today’s war for talent, they need to start taking their climate responsibilities seriously and consider a net zero plan to be something that’s non-negotiable.
There’s no better time to take action as the UN’s Climate Change Conference, COP27, began in Egypt last week. Our survey found that a significant percentage (60%) of the UK workforce cares about the conference and its output, but only 15% believe their company feels the same. What’s more, 70% of employees believe their company should follow the goals and commitments agreed upon at COP27.
It’s time for business leaders to listen to their employees on this issue and take action. Whatever the agreements reached at COP27, an IPCC report published earlier this year offers businesses a clear plan of action: carbon removal. For the first time in this report, UN scientists recognised carbon removal as being critical to stabilising the climate. Carbon removal technologies include direct air capture and enhanced weathering, and while their efficacy has been proven, the business world can go further to make them a central part of their net-zero strategies.
Too many companies continue to fill their corporate sustainability programmes with avoidance offsets. These methods, which involve paying someone else not to emit while your emissions are still out there warming the earth, are ineffective at best and fraudulent at worst. Carbon removal, on the other hand, sucks carbon out of the atmosphere for up to 10,000 years, making it the only viable route for businesses to reach net zero.
As employees become increasingly invested in the climate agenda, they’re not going to stand for employers jumping on the first, half-baked climate solution that presents itself. Leaders should challenge themselves to invest in carbon removal technologies that can deliver meaningful change. By doing so, they will also help them scale and increase access to more businesses.
UN scientists now believe it may be too late to keep global warming below the key threshold of 1.5C, so don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Show your employees you care about COP27 by taking action, and using the conference to inspire a credible path to net zero.”