COP26: The time is now for radical cross-sector collaboration to reach net-zero
Greg Lucas, Sustainability Manager at IKEA UK&I, outlines how COP26 has brought together a diverse range of voices that can work collaboratively to drive radical climate action.
Image UNClimateChange Flickr
The science is clear. This is the most important decade for climate action. The good news is many businesses, and millions of people, are already taking action to reduce their climate footprint and develop a circular economy.
But we know there’s more to do, and no one part of society can do it alone – we need to act now.
COP26 represents many parts of society that come together at the same time, to tackle the climate crisis. It’s a lot of voices, and not a lot of time – so radical collaboration and forward-thinking will be vital in moving the world towards net-zero, beyond just making commitments.
Climate concerns everyone
Recent IKEA research shows that people across the globe want more support from governments and businesses. For consumers, durability and cost-effectiveness of products help them make healthier and more sustainable purchasing habits. For businesses, this must be supported by enabling policies and regulations that actively and unapologetically support greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.
The UK Government recently published its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy alongside other sustainability policies. Taken together, they provide a unique framework for decarbonising the whole economy to meet the UK’s net-zero target. The Budget also introduced much-needed incentives and financial levers around greening our homes and accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
But we – and the Government – must do more, and more work is needed in key areas like energy efficiency, complex and heavy industry, and nature restoration. Businesses are already taking a lead in many of these areas, and in most cases the right technology already exists. However, we need the Government to provide consistency and long-term plans and policies to unlock the investment and innovation to scale-up these solutions.
Businesses can also act by taking responsibility for their climate impact across the full value chain, such as the way they make things and manage supply chains. Minimising waste, extending the life and value of products, and regenerating the natural environment cannot remain as side projects – firms need to view this as part of their core business.
Governments must continue to lead by example. And at COP26 we need many more governments to step up and set more demanding targets, underpinned by detailed plans.
All this shows why we need a multifaceted approach, sharing of ideas and taking risks. We must try new ideas, new technologies, new solutions and new models across business, society, and governments. A partnership-based approach will create the exponential impact the world needs. Bringing people together to share knowledge, transfer skills, innovate new solutions, and operationalise change, we can create a multiplier effect of change across the business and government.
Playing our part
We know that it is possible to be a successful, growing business and to move towards net-zero. In FY19, the absolute climate footprint of the total IKEA value chain decreased 6.5%, while the IKEA business continued to grow (4.3%). The pandemic has of course had an impact, but the fact remains: it’s good business to be a good business.
We’re proud to be a Partner of COP26, showing up and being a visible force for change and helping the negotiators to deliver the best outcome, just as we are proud to be a partner in people’s lives in our day-to-day business.
At COP26 and in the months and years ahead, we’ll also be a partner for other businesses and governments. We will share what we’ve learnt about decarbonising our business, and advocate for long-term, enabling policies, regulations, and actions that support greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2050. For a start, we think there needs to be more financial support for greening our homes, enabling renewable energy production, phasing out the financing of coal and other fossil fuels, and super-charging the electrification of urban mobility.
For several years we have been reimagining how we operate, source and use materials. We are on track to meet our vision of being climate positive and fully circular by 2030. In the UK, we’re partnering with the Let’s Go Zero campaign, Winnow food waste technology, the Green Pensions Charter, Barnardo’s, the BRC Climate Roadmap and EV100 to raise further awareness and bring about change.
As conversations begin in earnest this week, politicians, businesses, leaders – all of us – must seize the opportunity to act and show the way. IKEA will seek to create radical collaborations, roadmap commitments, and ultimately, support our millions of customers to live more healthy and sustainable lives within the limits of the planet. We urge business and government to join us in the collaboration we need to make real change for our shared home, planet Earth.