Sustainability Live: What the speakers have to say…

With Sustainability Live 2015 less than two weeks away, we have selected our top quotes from some of the industry experts that will be leading the discussions throughout the three-day show.

Sustainability Live 2015 returns to the NEC Birmingham on 21-23 April 2015, with a host of new features, networking events and a high-level conference – all with a focus on doing business better.

To give you a flavour of what to expect from this year’s show, edie has been conducting exclusive interviews with some of the key speakers. From Carlsberg’s Charlotta Lyon to Forum for the Future’s David Bent, leading sustainability experts to Government officials and business executives, read and share your favourites, and click on the speakers’ profile pictures to read the full, exclusive interviews.


David Bent, director of sustainability, Forum for the Future

Big businesses are at risk of being left behind. When it comes to disruptive change within an industry, it’s rarely the incumbents that lead the charge – they actually tend to be the ones that are effectively destroyed.

The vast majority of incumbent businesses have habituated themselves to get slightly better at what they’re already doing rather than exploring new, revolutionary business models, often because they can’t allocate enough resources.

Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability, Seymourpowell

Any company’s core business is its products. But it’s still possible to be a sustainability leader without ever really touching products. Two or three years ago, I thought there was going to be a new wave of sustainability driven innovation, but it hasn’t quite come through in the way I would have expected. 

Even the real leaders are still designing, making and selling the same stuff made in slightly more sustainable ways, rather than thinking about what new stuff they need to do. Concepts like the circular economy are starting to change that thinking, but it’s not happening anywhere near as fast as I had thought and hoped.

Rich Clothier, managing director, Wyke Farms

60% of consumers are looking for ‘green’ products. It’s a no-brainer. But I talk to people who work in sustainable roles in big PLCs, and their biggest problem is getting the stakeholders to commit the funds because there are always other priorities.

I think that’s one of the biggest challenges – leveraging the finance.

Claudine Blamey, chair, ICRS

Regardless of the issues the parties choose to campaign on, the real test of any Government is what they can achieve while in power. We’ve been tempted by visions of the ‘green economy’ for many years. New waves of investment and innovation; zero carbon new builds; community-scale energy solutions and green jobs.

Making that vision a reality will mean that Government, of whatever hue, has to make a strong and unwavering commitment to translating the rhetoric of the manifesto into the reality of effective and concerted action, whether in the form of investment, taxation or regulation. 


Gio Patellaro, head of energy supply and risk at M&S

There is no excuse for organisations not to buy green electricity. If a business wants a renewable supply agreement, the market is not pricing in a green premium above and beyond Climate Change Levy. It doesn’t make a difference in terms of cost to serve – whether you have a brown or green supply agreement, the cost is the same.

So businesses should green their supply. And there are clear benefits, both environmentally because of the reduction in carbon emissions, and financially as well, through carbon credits.

Dexter Galvin, head of supply chain, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

People need to accept that climate change is an extreme threat to their globalised business model. The focus on supply chain vulnerability will only increase with the increased regularity of extreme weather events. Big companies are currently forced to do their own research to find out what suppliers are doing.

CDP is looking to standardise this information on big-time commodities like palm oil and distribute this data to buyers to streamline the procurement process.” 

Charlotta Lyon, VP corporate affairs Western Europe, Carlsberg Breweries AS

I agree with the statement that today’s business models are not fit for purpose if we are to deliver the transformational changed needed to create a sustainable future. The models we have today, across different countries and different sectors, are so well-established that they don’t really help in making some of those transformational changes.

It can be very challenging to deliver against sustainability objectives if the way we do business is already so engrained.

Susanne Baker, senior climate and environment policy adviser, EEF the manufacturers’ organisation

At the moment we are competing under regulations – that other countries don’t have – and they need to be overcome if we are to be globally competitive.

For industries that rely on trade and have heavy energy use as part of their manufacturing process, the only way to meet targets in future [without a global agreement in Paris] could be to shift manufacturing overseas.

Jo Scully, ESOS project manager, Environment Agency

We’re confident that the right people will know about ESOS and we are hopeful that they will comply by the deadline [5 December, 2015]. We sent out 13,000 letters in October and November last year and we’ve sent out another round of letters in March with an ‘act now’ prompt.

The deadline is set in law so it’s in a business’s interest to comply.

Gavin Templeton, head of sustainable finance, Green Investment Bank

It’s not quite a tsunami, but the smart money which has never invested in the UK before, is coming now. I think it’s a sea change – over the past 18 months institutional investors have started seeing sustainability as a good investment rather than something that is simply nice to have.

People are looking at their portfolios and are looking to balance the risk they are facing with the dangers of stranded assets, the carbon bubble and the discussion around fossil fuel divestment.

Anya Ledwith, director of environmental & carbon management, ESHCon

Many environmental professionals view the new ISO 14001 as an improvement. It will demonstrate an organisation’s real commitment and will be much more than a tick-box exercise or a management system on the side. 

By truly embedding the environment into the organisation’s operations, strategic thinking, risk management and planning, there are plenty of benefits to be had, especially for early adopters.

Sustainability Live takes place on April 21st-23rd at the NEC, Birmingham. Attending is completely free of charge. Click here to register now.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie