What’s next for net zero?
This morning saw more Just Stop Oil protestors arrested on the M25 — the second day of planned disruption whilst climate leaders meet at COP27. The headlines are clear, choices stark: work together now to cut emissions or condemn future generations to climate catastrophe.
The perfect storm of challenges persists. While consumers tighten their purse strings heading deeper into a winter energy crisis, rising manufacturing costs and the war in Ukraine have laddered up to a laser focus on a fragile energy supply. Disruption to our national leadership and an evolving green agenda has called into question the extent our net zero ambitions remain a priority.
Here’s what our Exchange cross-industry leaders had to say.
- “The current energy challenges have heightened our awareness of our energy dependencies. In businesses, we’re seeing a kind of schizophrenia — either a point of huge opportunity and planning for 5–10 years ahead, or a grappling with the day-to-day P&L.”
- “It all comes down to business resilience, adaptability and agile leadership. Our real estate projects can take between 20–50 years to complete. When the economical and cultural landscape is changing so quickly, we need to be able to keep up. Not to mention the demand to retrofit our buildings to align with our green ambitions.”
- Consumer awareness is shifting. Transparent, greener supply chains are quickly becoming a must for organisations, driven by an increase in consumer expectations and awareness. In 2021 the UK government found that 40% of firms’ green claims could be misleading. Can sustainability be cost-effective? One attendee, a leader from an apparel retailer (that historically might be associated with fast fashion) reported “we want sustainable fashion to be accessible for all. It shouldn’t cost the earth, literally and metaphorically. But we do need credible, science-based action”.
- There’s a huge opportunity for the renewable market to boom. “On the other hand from a consumer perspective, the fear around energy costs is helpful for sharpening the mind around net zero.” Read more.
- “What’s concerning me is corporate behaviour. Corporates have been at the forefront of driving this change and I’m starting to see people go back on the priorities and pledges they’ve made. We haven’t seen the full impact of this yet”.
- “Does net zero need a rebrand?” Net zero is a complex, high-stakes matter. Should organisations and governments be more mindful of the image of net zero? One attendee emphasised the importance of what we’re asking consumers to do or change, and why investing in a national marketing campaign would clarify the mission and the ask. “People I meet day to day see net zero as the “fun police”. Net zero is not a useful term, it doesn’t really represent what we need to do.”
This wrap-up barely scratched the surface of the huge topic ‘What’s next for net zero’. A huge thank you to all our attendees for your contributions and insight.
Exchange brings together the brightest and boldest leaders within the Magnetic community. Every session we unpack a timely topic that requires debate, discussion, and collaboration. Topics for the discussion are decided weeks before the event, as we grapple with what’s on the top of our leaders’ agendas. The next Exchange is on the 25th of January 2023. Sign up for the Magnetic newsletter to stay in the loop about future events.
For more details on the work Magnetic does tackling some of the toughest climate challenges, get in touch with Richard.Poole@wearemaganetic.com.