It might sound a bit pretentious or grandiose for an executive search firm to “declare” a climate emergency. But that’s what Society has decided we need to do. We feel obligated to speak out and to commit ourselves to action. Thankfully, we’re not alone. Organisations around the world, and across almost every sector of the economy, are waking up. And B Corporations like Society are at the forefront of that movement.
The scientific verdict is definitive: humankind is already making irreversible changes to the earth’s climate. On current trends, global temperatures will rise by three degrees by the end of this Century. That will entail the mass extinction of species, ecological breakdown in parts of the world, and a whole host of devastating socio-economic consequences, the worst of which will fall on the world’s most vulnerable people. Leading scientists tell us that we need to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, and to zero by 2050, in order to limit global warming to its maximum manageable threshold of 1.5 degrees. In other words, humanity has a limited window in which it can hope to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This is a planetary emergency, caused by system-level failure. It requires a planetary response and far-reaching system-level change: changes to government policy, changes to consumer behaviour, and changes to accepted business norms. Every individual and every organization has a responsibility to act.
For these reasons, Society is committing to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to ‘Net Zero’ by 2030.
We don’t have big factories to overhaul, or complex supply chains to marshal. However, even for us, this commitment will present significant challenges. We will doubtless need to reimagine certain aspects of our business model. That is partly because we are determined the word “Net” shouldn’t end up doing all the heavy lifting. Companies mustn’t fool themselves that simply offsetting their carbon footprint can provide the whole solution. There are only so many trees the world can plant. Meanwhile, many of the approaches for subtracting carbon from the atmosphere currently remain unproven. We feel we actually need to reduce our footprint as well.
Here is the approach we plan to take:
- We will calculate and report our estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory (our ‘carbon footprint’) compliant with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
- We will then develop a series of carbon reduction targets/milestones and begin reporting on them annually.
- We will look at ways to minimise our use of carbon-intensive travel, particularly air travel.
- We will regularly review all energy and water usage and our waste management arrangements.
- We will support and encourage our employees to change their individual behaviour, including switching to renewable energy at home, using more public transport, cycling and walking, reducing food waste, eating less meat and dairy, and taking an active interest in where their pensions are invested.
- We will try to identify ways of pursuing shared solutions with our clients, our suppliers and even our competitors.
- We will consider new ways to use our purchasing power to affect positive change.
It won’t be easy, but by doing all of this and more, we hope to go from being part of the problem to part of the solution.