We face a climate and environmental emergency. Man-made emissions – largely from burning fossil fuels – are changing our climate. This is causing forests to burn, corals to die, ice caps to melt and crops to fail. We are polluting the air we breathe and plastics are finding their way into our food chain. Alarmingly, global wildlife populations have plummeted by over two thirds since 1970.
In short, we are living beyond the environmental limits of our planet. We should be living off nature’s interest (ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, disease control, food and water provision), yet we’re currently dipping into her capital (depleting the stock of natural assets through deforestation, over-fishing, soil erosion, pollution and the like).
This is not some distant fear. It is happening here and now, and we are experiencing the impacts everyday, even in the UK. Once in 100-year storms are now occurring every few years with severe flooding disrupting lives.
The availability of foods and commodities is being put at risk by an increase in crop failures leading to higher prices. And we are beginning to feel the effects of mass migration of those from the hardest hit countries.
But now is not the time for despair. We know what needs to be done to turn things around. Our understanding of humanity’s impact on earth’s complicated processes is better than ever before. We already have the technologies to clean up our energy and transport systems, to heat our homes and to make food production sustainable.
What is needed is political leadership, and for businesses to change their short-termism. We need everyone to think about minimising their impact and to demand higher standards of sustainability of those who provide our products and services – from our supermarkets through to our pension providers.
Thankfully change is starting to happen. In the UK we have cut our emissions by 44% since 1990 while still improving living standards. There has been tremendous progress to decarbonise our electricity grid, with over a third of supply now from renewable sources. Unfortunately, efforts to reverse biodiversity decline have not been so effective and huge challenges remain to reach a net zero and sustainable economy.
Gemserv is playing its part. We are carbon neutral and act to cut our waste and water usage. But the biggest impact we can make is through the business we conduct. Whether it is supporting the roll out of 53 million smart meters that cut energy usage and emissions, or through to our work on Electric Vehicles (EVs), supporting the transition to cleaner transport system.
Our purpose as a business is “Making things that matter work better for everyone.” It cuts across everything we do, driving decision-making and contributing to a more sustainable future. That is why we are actively supporting future Net Zero (FNZ). A fantastic initiative that was set up to inspire, commit and educate business on their role in achieving net zero by 2050.
Purpose-driven businesses have already spotted the opportunity. They want to be more productive, efficient, and clean to attract the best minds who care about more than just making money. They see sustainability as a driver for a better future and know that it is the right thing to do. We think FNZ can help other businesses do the same.
Let’s be clear, the cost of inaction far exceeds the cost of action: you cannot conduct business on a dead planet.
Author: Trevor Hutchings, Director of Strategy and Communications