WATCH: Business leaders outline green policy demands in Queue for Climate and Nature

Across Millennium Bridge in London on Friday 15 September, some 300 professionals queued to sign a declaration sent to all major British political parties.

The declaration at the end of the ‘Queue for Climate and Nature’ called on MPs to make Manifesto commitments to rapidly deploy renewable energy; conserve and restore nature at pace and scale; and outline plans to end fossil fuel expansion in the North Sea.

Organised by Declares and Business Stand Up, the queue was intended to show policymakers that they would have broad support for setting more ambitious commitments to decarbonise the energy system and restore nature at scale. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unfortunately did not get the message and, less than one week later, scaled back some key policies relating to low-carbon buildings and transport.

The edie editorial team attended the Queue in scorching late-summer-heatwave temperatures to capture the views of those taking part in a series of videos, chaired by deputy editor Sarah George. Watch them all below.

COOK’s head of wholesale Chris Portwood 

While many participants were sustainability professionals or founders of their own green enterprises, there were also a wealth of attendees from business functions such as procurement, product development and sales – including COOK’s head of wholesale Chris Portwood.

He told edie: “As a leader of a business that is growing and becoming a medium-to-large business, we have spent an awful lot of time, effort and money thinking about how we can deliver a strategy that is doing good in society and doing good for the environment. We really want the government to do the same.”

Natura & Co’s global head of advocacy Charmian (Char) Love

Natura & Co’s Char Love is a long-term friend of edie and heads up advocacy work at Natura&Co, owner of businesses including Avon and The Body Shop.

She emphasised the importance of showing policymakers that peaceful protests are not only for students, telling edie: “Really, I have huge gratitude and respect for all the work activists have been doing for many years, but this is a time when we need everybody to lend their voice, to speak up, to really make sure that the parties representing us in governments are hearing that [climate and nature] are something that a wide group of people really want to have action taken on.”

Business Declares director Ben Tolhurst 

Business Declares was one of the event’s organising partners and its director Ben Tolhurst was on the ground providing interviews. Tolhurt joined the organisation around four years ago after spending the best part of two decades in the corporate world.

Business Declares typically mobilises professionals online but Tolhurst emphasised the importance of face-to-face events.

He said: “I fully understand how businesspeople feel nervous about speaking out in case they get in trouble with their bosses, or in case their company’s brands are not happy.

“But, at the end of the day, we are in an existential crisis… It is time to be bold. It is time to be courageous. It is time to put the awkwardness away and speak out because, if not now – when?”

Bates Wells Partner and B Lab UK board member Louise Harman

Lawyer Louise Harman attended the queue with her two-year-old son, joining colleagues from B Lab and from several B-Corp-certified brands.

She told edie: “For me, it’s about thinking about… what we owe to future generations and the risk of inaction. I think we are already at the point where we’re talking about damage mitigation as opposed to the prevention of loss. For me, this is a demand on government to take action in a more urgent way.”

Sustainable Future for All founder Charles Perry

Charles Perry was a COP26 Climate Champion, supporting the UK Government and the UN in delivering the climate summit in Glasgow almost two years ago.

He said he was attending the queue in the hopes of getting the government to, once again, show the climate leadership it had displayed from 2019 to 2021.

He explained: “I think specifically, right now in the UK, we are going backwards. It almost feels as if we’re heading back into the 20th century when we’re supposed to be leading to the future. We were once pioneers of things like the Climate Change Act and net-zero legislation, and I just feel that business leaders really need to ramp up the pressure on Government because, in the last two or three years, the backtracking has been very disturbing.”



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