The only zeros most business leaders used to concern themselves with were the ones added to a long line of figures on a balance sheet.
However, mention the word zero nowadays and it’ll mostly be included in a conversation about sustainability.
This is not smoke and mirrors stuff, anything but, the mind-shift can be seen in all business sectors as the world economy strives for a greener future.
Emission reduction is no flight of fancy
The budget airline, Ryanair, doesn’t always get the best press but the recent appointment of its first director of sustainability has to be applauded. Blue sky thinking indeed.
Thomas Fowler is the man responsible for the company meeting its own target of reducing emissions per passenger per kilometre from 66g at the end of 2019 to 60g by 2030.
Crucially, they now publish monthly emissions data on their website. “Once you publish [pledges and data], you have to stand over them,” Fowler said. “Transparency and disclosure are going to become a bigger play for us in the next few years.”
Following in its slipstream are Etihad Airways who have started to make long-haul flights free from single-use plastic.
Fossil fuels are history
Another company changing the narrative, this time in the financial world, is Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager. Blackrock has already made strides on its stance to remove fossil fuels from its portfolio and is committed to embedding climate action into its investment decisions.
Elsewhere, the drinks are on BrewDog, in celebration of the trendy craft beer firm’s pledge to give customers an equity stake in the company if they recycle beer cans.
And Heineken-owned cider brand, Old Mout, have unveiled a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), aimed at uniting young consumers in a drive to protect natural habitats and save endangered species from extinction.
The green machine
All these efforts are just the tip of the iceberg – admittedly not the best turn of phrase given the threat to Antarctica by global warming – as figures released by BloombergNEF (BNEF) show that there has been a large increase in new corporate sustainability commitments.
For example, BNEF’s 1H 2020 Corporate Energy Market Outlook found that corporates purchased 19.5GW of clean power through power purchase agreements (PPAs) last year, up from 13.6GW in 2018 and more than triple the levels recorded in 2017.
BNEF’s lead sustainability analyst Jonas Rooze said: “Corporations have purchased more than 50GW of clean energy since 2008. That is bigger than the power generation fleets of markets like Vietnam and Poland. These buyers are reshaping power markets and the business models of energy companies around the world.”
Small steps to sustainability
Of course, not all companies are big enough to warrant having a director of sustainability on their books or write open cheques to charitable causes, but there are plenty of small measures, such as those listed below, that can be easily implemented in an affordable way.
- Green energy procurement
- Power Purchase Agreements
- Self-Generation Schemes
- Electric Vehicle incentives
- Waste to Energy Recycling
- Staff training – behavioural changes
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