Net-zero: The decisions taken now will shape our future

As part of edie's Net-Zero Carbon Playbook, the Climate Group's chief executive Helen Clarkson explains why businesses need to start planning and acting on net-zero pathways now, in order to play a part in a just low-carbon transition.

Net-zero: The decisions taken now will shape our future

By 2030 the world needs to halve emissions. Every business decision we make in the next few years needs to be informed by that reality – every investment, every innovation, every target. We’ve run out of time for business as usual: we need to transform rapidly, and at scale. We call it the Climate Decade because everything we and you do needs to have the climate at the centre.

That’s the daunting news.

But there is also good news. As we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve learned a few things. Firstly, that maybe business-as-usual wasn’t so great in the first place. Many businesses have had their internal culture shaken-up radically by over a year of working from home and a moratorium on business travel. We’ve seen that when circumstances dictate, we are capable of change that previously seemed culturally impossible. And there’s no better time to change than when you’ve already got to redefine the ‘new normal’.

We know that businesses are still committed to climate action. When we surveyed our business members last year, 97% said that their long-term sustainability strategy remains unchanged, despite the pandemic. Even more importantly, 96% believe climate action is just as, if not more, important now compared to pre-Covid-19.

Secondly, governments have stepped up their ambition on climate – from the USA, China, the EU, the UK, even Japan and South Korea, the big emitters are all signalling that they want to hit net zero by 2050 and, in most cases, halve emissions by 2030.

And governments want to hear from business. Through our campaigns, we’ve shown that where business leads, it can give confidence to governments to back their leadership up with policy shifts that help businesses meet their goals.

In March 2021, more than 50 companies from our RE100 initiative, including Google, AstraZeneca, and Nikon, issued an open letter to the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calling for an increase in the country’s renewable energy target to 50% by 2030, more than double the current goal. The letter suggests policies and initiatives to help accelerate the availability of renewable energy in Japan, including strengthening the grid to drive down costs.

In 2020, the UK Electric Fleets Coalition, a partnership between the Climate Group and BT Group with the support of 28 other businesses, successfully called for the UK Government to bring forward its phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030.

There is an opportunity ahead of us to use the recovery from the pandemic to build a better and more just future for all, and one that takes us to net zero by the mid-century. But it’s not a given. The decisions taken now will shape our future.

Through collective learning, innovation, and brave and bold leadership, businesses have the means to make the changes needed in order to get to net zero. So what are you doing next? How are you going to play your part in the Climate Decade?

The Net-Zero Carbon Playbook

We know the net-zero carbon future we want to achieve. But how are we going to achieve it? Inspired by edie’s award-winning Mission Possible campaign, this Net-Zero Carbon Playbook inspires and empowers businesses to ramp up efforts across all areas of sustainable development to achieve net-zero.

Produced in association with Centrica Business Solutions and featuring input from The Climate Group and our Countdown to COP26 Festival partner O2, the report provides this unique insight and inspiration through the lens of five interconnected pillars related to the future of sustainable business: Energy, Resources, Mobility, The Built Environment, and Business Leadership. The document will provide a net-zero carbon progress report across all of these areas; empowering businesses to take specific actions to accelerate that progress themselves.

The report features forewords and contributions from the Climate Group, O2 and Centrica Business Solutions, all of which articulate the opportunity that businesses have in delivering a net-zero carbon future. Businesses are also invited to upload new carbon-based pledges to edie’s Mission Possible Pledge Wall.

Click here to download your copy of the Playbook.

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