UK’s Net-Zero Business Champion: We must spark conversations outside our usual circles

Before becoming an MP

Griffith stepped into his current position in November 2020 and is tasked with helping COP26 president Alok Sharma and his team engage with the private sector in the run-up to the event, which is being described as the most important since the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2015.

While businesses are not involved in the key negotiation discussions at COP events, the UK Government has repeatedly signalled its intention to showcase private-sector innovations and achievements at the conference. Moreover, it is using the Race to Zero campaign to urge businesses to increase the ambition of their commitments before November.

Griffith used his keynote speech at Day Two of edie’s virtual Sustainability Leaders Forum (scroll down for details) to reiterate this call to action, speaking about the opportunities posed by the current international context.

He said: “It’s been a very difficult 12 months for everybody in business, and recognising that we are not yet out of the woods, I still think we have a real opportunity to drive a green recovery and build back greener.

“I’m proud that, despite the many challenges of the pandemic, we’ve kept this agenda as a clear mission statement at the forefront of government action.

“In macro geopolitical terms, new US leadership and the imperative on China to now engage with the rest of the world on this topic presents us with a genuinely unique moment in time.”

Griffith said there is now “a really historic opportunity to build a crescendo of momentum that we can all use to make real and lasting change happen”, with these factors in mind. Additionally, the UK holds the G7 presidency this year, and this year will also see the 15th biodiversity COP following Covid-19 related delays.

Advice to businesses

Following his speech, Griffith took part in a Q&A session with the hundreds of attendees. He was asked to detail the most impactful actions businesses can take ahead of COP26 to contribute to this “crescendo”, aside from announcing their own improved climate targets.

He said: “Please work with your supply chain to show them what you and they can do. We’re all each others’ keepers on the climate agenda and everyone is someone else’s customer or supplier. If we all move together, at the same time, the costs of achieving the change are transformationally lower. And, importantly, we can all move much faster.”

“Please tell everyone to champion what you are doing. My experience in talking to businesses every day is that there’s a huge appetite to make the change. Most of you today are here in the vanguard of that push. But for those just starting out on this journey, the biggest barrier is not having the desire to do, but knowing how to go about doing it. So hearing what others have done, having case studies and the confidence to do the same is genuinely priceless.”

“The role of all of the thought leaders gathered today is to not simply talk to each other – if I may say so. It is to also talk to others, including suppliers and private networks. Make sure that one of the first things people know about your business is what you are doing as part of the climate ambition in the COP26. This is not an afterthought or something that’s buried in the sustainability section of your corporate website. It is something that is really front-of-mind in every conversation that takes place.”

There’s still time to join the conversation at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum 

From Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 February 2021, edie’s award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum event is returning in a brand new virtual format. This year, we are delighted to bring you speakers including former Energy Minister Claire O’Neill and World Green Building Council CEO Christina Gamboa. 

This event will allow you to be connected with peers via face-to-face via video chats; be inspired by high-level keynote talks from industry leaders; be involved in a series of interactive panel discussions and live audience polls; and be co-creative in our interactive workshops, whilst also meeting leading technical experts in our dedicated virtual exhibition zone. Rooms, expo booths, private chats, bespoke stages and backstage passes – it’s all possible. 

For a full agenda and to register now, visit: 

Sarah George

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