Systemic change requires something more urgent and revolutionary in terms of creation and support for climate action and the “evolution not revolution” mantra that has underpinned Corporate Sustainability in the past is no longer enough.
Three years on from attending the last Climate Innovation Forum (CIF) in person as part of London Climate Action Week, I was intrigued to discover the extent to which climate action has developed and manifested through innovation.
There was a plethora of speakers at CIF, including Rt Hon Greg Hands MP (Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change), Ben Wilson (Chief Strategy and External Affairs Officer, National Grid), Nick Mabey (Founder, London Climate Action Week) and Lord Adair Turner (Chairman, Energy Transitions Commission, a global coalition of leaders from across the energy landscape).
Transport was naturally under the spotlight, with a stronger sense of the specific action that rail, road, maritime and aviation could take, along with a deeper, and more developed understanding of the role alternative fuels such as hydrogen can play, as well as their current limitations, in the energy transition. Scope 3 (namely a company’s emissions within their supply chain) has driven a notable power shift across infrastructure and manufacturing with the more ambitious B2Bs now moving away from compliance-led sustainability, which was dictated by a box-ticking exercise for their customers, in favour of devising strategies that focus on innovation. This is enabling suppliers and manufacturers to challenge customers towards the consumer end of the market and is shifting sustainability teams from being seen as a cost centre to driving value creation and long-term commercial opportunity.
Some CIF delegates were hell-bent on wanting perfect solutions, namely academia and government, where expectations are high and budgets are closely scrutinised, but most also recognised that today’s answers cannot rely on technology that is still 10 or 15 years away from scaling. I attended several roundtables and noticed corporates are no longer ‘kicking the can down the road’, to use a term I heard several times throughout the day, and corporate sustainability teams are developing practical and pragmatic strategies centred around EV, more intuitive logistical management and skills development at all levels across their businesses.
In recent years we have seen much more of an emphasis on environmental management and reporting, but finally social impact is resurfacing as part of strategic sustainability conversations and was very prevalent at CIF. There was more discussion this time surrounding health and clean air, noting the impact burning fossil fuels for transportation can inflict on populations. The market is also reflecting this shift with an increasing number of roles that interface with the environment, aiming to deliver sustainable innovations that place people and planet on a more even keel.
From a community mobility perspective, the application of tech is vital. Turo and Uberpool for car sharing for example, demonstrate how travel can be shared to reduce emissions, and while it’s not all up to the individual, diversified strategies that empower customers as well as employees and suppliers are the ones that will have staying power.
If you attended London Climate Action Week and found certain elements particularly thought provoking, I would be interested to hear from you to discuss this further, especially if you feel the sector changes are affecting the way you run your organisation. Acre provides talent solutions by working with forward-thinking, purpose driven organisations who seek highly skilled individuals to drive the sustainability agenda forward and equip businesses to build resilience, adapt and manage the risks involved in tackling climate change.
Reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanith leads Acre’s recruitment teams across Infrastructure and Manufacturing. Since joining the business, Tanith has developed Acre’s executive consultant platform, the Acre Bench, providing flexible support to clients facing some of the most challenging materiality, strategy and responsible value chain issues in sustainability. She has successfully placed senior ESG professionals with clients such as LyondellBasell, Ball Corporation, and Virgin Atlantic, as well as with leading industry bodies. Tanith spends the majority of her time with Acre's clients, delivering Executive recruitment projects as well as bespoke consultancy and business optimisation assignments.