Impact: Business & the Environment

Ever more savvy and responsible consumers are basing more and more of their buying decisions not on cost at point of sale but cost to the earth.

They’re analysing labelling closely, thinking about ingredients and materials, looking for reasons not to buy on the basis of any negative impact on the environment.

So savvy businesses are doing all of these things too – scrutinising every part of the supply chain to streamline and minimise waste and carbon footprint, sourcing responsible suppliers that operate ethically, and investing in innovation to explore the potential of raw materials, machinery and processes that make manufacturing leaner and greener.

The really smart businesses are also making all of this activity part of their marketing narrative. A strong, green and sustainable message that’s also authentic and progressive will go a long way to cementing your reputation in this area and creating a loyal band of brand aficionados willing to grow with you.

So we took a look at what is making the business news in terms of the environment. With the UK aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the message is change or be changed!

Biobricks at the Milan Furniture Fair

This year’s Fair sees designers and brands being cautious. They’re looking back for inspiration, taking their cues from classic designs and expanding established ranges. What has become a key feature across the board is sustainability and recycling, and nowhere more so than in Paris-born, London-based architect, coding expert and lecturer Arthur Mamou-Mani’s Cos installation. Mamou-Mani’s digitally designed and made parametric architecture uses algorithms to create geometric patterns using a set of rules that’s much more organic. The installation is built from 3D printed ‘biobricks’ which are made of glycerine, vinegar and starch and is a fully renewable material.

Change or Be Changed!

A new government plan to tackle climate change aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to almost zero by 2050. The UK is the first major nation to propose this target which has been embraced by green groups and promises to benefit public health and cut NHS costs. The government is getting to grips with the idea that it is possible to lower emissions and have economic growth at the same time, so sees this much tougher target as achievable.

Emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will have to be avoided completely or – in the most difficult examples – offset by planting trees or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Perhaps the most important aspect of this plan is how it will influence other nations: if other countries follow the UK, there is a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100.

Considering your own environmental impact now will put you in much better shape for the changes to come.

Banks Need to Invest in the Future

The governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank are warning that the global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change. They’re advising that financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world need to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe.

Global warming has not been the priority for central bankers since the 2008 financial crisis. However, they’re beginning to recognise that action is needed and the financial industry leaders are warning that a massive reallocation of capital is needed to prevent global warning above the 2°C maximum by the Paris climate agreement.

“If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”
Mark Carney

The risks of climate change for banks and insurers include catastrophic weather-related events, such as heatwaves, droughts and floods, which could create significant losses. Companies reliant on fossil fuels also run the risk of steep financial losses. The issue now that the potential problems have been identified is to take action.

Transparency is Essential

A recent article in The Guardian reported that more than 700 companies lack transparency about their environmental impact. The most staggering thing about that story? Those companies include Amazon, Tesco and ExxonMobil.

A $10tn (£7.9tn) investor alliance is accusing companies with a combined worth of more than $15tn of failing to reveal the full extent of their impact on the climate crisis, water shortages and deforestation.

The campaign platform Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) is bringing together investors to demand greater transparency on the environmental costs of doing business.

More than 7,000 companies already disclose their environmental impact through the CDP platform.

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