We lifted the idea that a council can declare a climate emergency from one council in Melbourne, Australia, to now 600 local, state and national governments around the world. The idea is working. Now we’re asking the business community: would a similar idea work for you? Have a look at this proposal for what a Climate Emergency Charter for busineses could look like.
Two British companies – Cotswold Fayre and Ecotricity – have been quick to pick up the torch. More will surely follow, but how many, and how quickly?
A template for what it looks like when a local government declares a climate emergency was created in December 2016 when Darebin City Council did this – as a world’s first – at the first meeting of a newly elected council.
Could a similar template or model of declaring a climate emergency be developed for the business sector?
Centre for Climate Safety in collaboration with Geelong Media has recently drafted a climate emergency charter, which is distributed online as an open source document, outlining how a network of climate leaders among companies and corporations declaring a climate emergency could create collective visibility and thereby a further increased possibility of influencing others in their respective networks and alliances.
The aim of the charter is “to reach an unprecedented level of engagement and understanding of what is required. In relation to their branding and sales as well as internal messaging to management and staff, businesses must increase awareness of and make visible their intention to adequately address the climate emergency.”
→ See the Climate Emergency Charter
Amazon employees demand emergency action
“Speed is everything. Without bold, rapid action we will lose our only chance to avoid catastrophic warming. There is no issue more important to our customers or our world than the climate crisis, and we are falling far short,” Amazon employee Emily Cunningham said during a speech at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, referring to a shareholder resolution and a letter signed by over 7,600 other Amazon employees, for the company to step up its action on the climate crisis.
“We know we are on the right side of history and have the backing of employees and investors,” she said.
The resolution did not pass at the shareholders meeting, but the call from 7,600 employees remains.
→ Medium – 23 May 2019:
The Dramatic Moment When an Amazon Worker Asked Jeff Bezos to Protect Planet Earth
“The Amazon CEO stayed backstage as employees stood up to demand change in an unusual show of force”
“We, the undersigned 7,683 Amazon employees, ask that you adopt the climate plan shareholder resolution and release a company-wide climate plan that incorporates the principles outlined in this letter.
Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis. We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we’re ready to be a climate leader.”
→ Medium – 11 April 2019:
Open letter to Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Board of Directors
“We must act collectively. We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.”
~ Admiral Chris Barrie, AC RAN Retired, Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 1998 to 2002. Honorary Professor at Strategic & Defence Studies Centre of Australian National University in Canberra, and a member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change.
Measure, reduce and offset
Dale Vince, Ecotricity co-founder, wrote on Facebook:
“It looks quite straightforward to me. We have a long standing environment policy to ‘become a zero carbon company at our earliest opportunity’ – this is in alignment with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, which came along more recently, in December 2015.
We’re going to upgrade this commitment by putting a date on it. We’re choosing the XR target date of 2025 – to be net carbon neutral or zero carbon – however you like to express it.
And we’re going to blend the methodologies of the UN and more recently the Climate Change Committee of Parliament – to implement this.
The UN approach to net carbon neutrality is to Measure, Reduce and Offset – we did this last year with Forest Green Rovers, who became the first sports club in the world to achieve that.
The recent CCC report sets out an ambitious goal for the whole of the UK to be carbon neutral, by 2050 (bit later than we would like but that will change in time) – and differs in delivery from the UN by suggesting offsetting take place in the host country, rather than in developing ones. That makes perfect sense. Current offsetting is a useful transition tool, but can’t deliver the end game.
We already have a focus on returning farm land back to nature, it’s a part of our approach (Energy, Transport, Food and making room for Nature), and we’ve a blueprint site for that in Gloucestershire where we’ve created new habitats and planted about 20k trees.
We also already measure our carbon footprint and we reduce each year as far as we can.
So right now we’re working on the details – we’re looking at what it will take to offset our residual carbon footprint (which for the last year was 760 tonnes) with a UK based habitat creation scheme – taking a piece of land and giving it back to nature. I don’t know yet quite what that will take, what area of land or extent of tree planting – but I’m confident that we can hit or beat that 2025 XR target. We have to.
Of course it will be easier for some companies to do than for others – but there’s no excuse for not getting started now. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, you need to do this! Adopt a target then Measure, Reduce and Offset your way to it. Let’s get this ball rolling…”
“Most businesses were not designed in the context of the developing climate emergency. Hence we must urgently redesign entire industries and businesses, using science-based targets.
To kick start the process and in support of the social movement for a climate emergency, a number of business leaders in April 2019 stated that businesses should make a declaration that we face a climate emergency and organise a session at a full board meeting to consider the case for urgent action.
They said they would encourage the senior management teams of which they are part to do likewise. These individuals are committed to examine the question of how to help business and financial markets to do what currently seems to be impossible for them: to declare a climate emergency – and then develop transition plans in close consultation with wider society.
The plan is that we will convene working sessions through 2019.”
→ Business declares a climate emergency:
“Helping Business and Financial markets declare a climate emergency”
→ Quartz – 29 May 2019:
The best way to fight climate change is to treat it like a business
“I believe companies must lead where policy makers have failed to. Like states and parliaments, business leaders should declare a climate emergency.”
→ The Guardian – 22 May 2019:
Amazon workers demand Bezos act on climate crisis
“Jeff’s inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis and spoke volumes about how Amazon’s board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon’s role in the climate emergency.”
→ BusinessGreen – 20 May 2019:
The XR effect: Ecotricity declares ‘climate emergency’ and sets 2025 net zero target
“In what could prove to be a world first, green entrepreneur Dale Vince has today declared a ‘climate emergency’ at renewable energy specialist Ecotricity.”
→ Edie – 21 May 2019:
Ecotricity responds to climate emergency with carbon-neutral goal for 2025
“Green utilities firm Ecotricity has publicly declared a climate emergency, vowing to “upgrade” its current sustainability commitments to become a carbon-neutral business by 2025.”
→ The Sunday Times – 22 April 2019:
Business leaders voice support for climate activists who shut down capital
“Business leaders have voiced their support for Extinction Rebellion, the environmental protest group that shut down parts of London last week, calling for an “urgent redesign” of global industry in a letter to The Times.”