Five things I am hoping for in 2023.
We all aim to start the new year fresh, whether that is setting new goals and aspirations or getting back into a lost hobby. I am certainly someone that wants to achieve new things.
When it comes to sustainability, there are things I want to see. Things I want to happen. Things that are not in my sphere of influence but things I am hoping for.
- More support for SMEs
Existing guidance is aimed at larger corporations. It is often filled with so much detail that is overwhelming for smaller businesses. Smaller customers need something they can manage, they don’t have the luxury of having a sustainability team. Smaller companies often need their employees to roll their sleeves up and do their bit. They are the backbone of the UK economy and need support.
More guidance and support for SMEs with implementing net zero plans, as well as financial support to allow SMEs to implement new efficiency or low carbon technologies.
- Climate Solidarity Pact
The UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres warned us at COP27 by stating we are currently losing the fight of our lives. With the previous 8 years basically being the hottest recorded and with global temperatures estimated to be on average 1.15oC higher in 2022, we are well on our way to losing the ability to maintain temperature to the 1.5oC target.
The Climate Solidarity pact is needed to support the global south with finances from the highest polluting countries. Sustainability is not a USP, it is not a competitive advantage, it should be a minimum standard. 2023 needs to be a year of collaborative action from global leaders, governments, NGOs, businesses, and individuals. If richer countries do not help poorer nations, then it shows we do not care about humanity.
- Movement on fossil fuels
I understand the energy trilemma. I understand the need for security of supply. Things that fossil fuels can provide. However, we need movement on phasing out of fossil fuels. There was little mention of fossil fuels at COP27, and the UK went backwards by opening a new coal mine to be used for coke and coal for the British steel industry as well as for export. This way of thinking is not going to help us out of the climate crisis we face. We need movement to phase out fossil fuels.
You may or may not agree with the way Just Stop Oil have been protesting but it’s clear more people are aware of the need to transition away from fossils fuels now, than before Just Stop Oil were on the streets. Anyway, the point is we need greater movement on how and when we will phase out fossil fuels.
- Improved honesty and transparency
There is greater awareness of greenwashing and greenhushing. In 2022, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received plenty of complaints after HSBC adverts started popping up in bus stops. The ads stated HSBC had invested £1 trillion into climate initiatives but they failed to mention the amount invested into industries with significant emissions. The ASA deemed it to be misleading as the everyday consumer may not know about the investments into highly emitting industries.
In 2023 it will be difficult to hide. If companies are making claims about their green credentials, they better be able to stand up to scrutiny. Awareness on misleading information has increased and I believe this will continue to increase. Companies won’t be able to hide behind tree planting schemes anymore.
- Less offsetting, more action, more regeneration
My final point for 2023 is to move away from offsetting as the first action a company takes when embarking on their net zero transition. Offsets do play a role but I think it’s the easy way out. They are important further down the line, after a company has reduced their emissions as much as possible and have unavoidable emissions which need to be offset. I personally believe it can get people into the wrong mindset which may lead to less urgent action.
First, we need to focus on reducing our footprints, doing more with less. Second, we need to consider what we can do beyond reducing our emissions. We need to completely shift our business models to becoming regenerative. We need to focus on business as a force for good by thinking about how our company can add value to society and the environment. It’s about leaving things better off than before.
I hope there is an opportunity to see more regenerative businesses emerging in 2023.
If you have any thoughts on this or any other net zero topic, please email me.