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Jumping on the Net Zero Train: The New Positives

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

The challenge for our businesses and all we take for granted is becoming greater by the day.

Action is needed even more urgently from all of us than most are willing to assume.

The stark message was underlined to the G7 leaders of the world’s biggest economies in Cornwall by Sir David Attenborough in person. “We are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet,” he warned them. “We have the skills to address it in time. All we need is the global will to do so”.

The science for the fast-looming scale of the climate emergency is now well known and beyond doubt. As a result, “tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific and technological issue”, Sir David told the leaders.

This message reinforces the now urgent mission and aims of Climate Action for Associations (CAFA). Communication is how confidence will be built, minds changed and efforts intensified at high speed.

The G7 leaders responded to Sir David’s warning by reinforcing the scale and speed of what must be done globally, not by 2050 but 2030 and hopefully much sooner.

“The unprecedented and interdependent crises of climate change and biodiversity loss pose an existential threat to people, prosperity, security and nature”, the leaders warned in their end-of-summit statement. ”2021 should be a turning point for our planet”.

To keep the 1.5° C global warning threshold “within reach”, the leaders agreed that there must be “tangible actions in all sectors of our economies and societies”.

This means action by every person and organisation, whatever their size or status. The prospects should not be regarded bleakly. They are a huge incentive.

“Achieving our collective ambitions of a global green and resilient recovery offers the greatest economic opportunity of our time to boost income, innovation, jobs, productivity and growth, while also accelerating action to tackle the existential threat of climate change and environmental degradation”, the G7 leaders agreed.

Less than 24 hours later, Alok Sharma, the President elect of COP26 underscored the speed required. “The task could not be more urgent” he told Confederation of British Industry Net Zero conference. Since the Paris agreements of 2015 “we have not done anything like enough”. Emissions must be halved by 2030. To achieve that “we need business behind us”.

Tony Danker, CEO of CBI emphasised the scale of what is not being done. “The world has no room for failure, currently we are way off track” he told the same conference.

But recent weeks have witnessed a huge upswing in perceptions and determination. Achieving net zero carbon emissions is generating huge new commitments from the finance sector. It is “taking off like wildfire,” says Nigel Topping, High Level Champion for Climate Action at COP26.

Talking and acting Green is no longer ‘hot air’. The accelerator pedal is now pushed hard against the floor. Climate risk is now widely recognised as financial risk. Boards and top executives ignore this at their peril. The ‘Race to Trillions’ is advancing fast.

Francois Villeroy, the governor of the French Central Bank, told the opening session of his Green Swans summit for top central bankers two weeks ago, “my generation has changed its mind. I have changed mine”.

“It is a very different conversation today”, said Carmine di Sibio, group chair and CEO of EY. “The switch is on and the private sector wants to help”.

There is swift change on multiple fronts. On one day in May, a Dutch court ruled against Shell for violating human rights. In a remarkable ruling the judge ordered the hydrocarbon giant to cut emissions by 45% in the next nine years. Simultaneously, big investors forced Exxon to replace three members of its board and embrace sustainability. This was in defiance of the CEO’s appeal not to do so.

How easy is it to convince business to make the transition needed? “Net zero is very easy to say. But it’s going to be hard to do. And make no mistake, this is going to be really hard”, Jane Fraser, the new CEO of CITI bank told President Biden’s virtual climate summit.

Big corporations and organisations have the name and capacity to take action. Increasing numbers are doing so, and in a determined way.

But for SMEs the scale and nature of the threat can be overwhelming. Many of you say it is almost too much when there are other existential battles you must fight just to keep trading, especially because of the impact of the COVID pandemic.

The task is enormous. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and his COP26 team for the international climate meeting scheduled for Glasgow in November, tell us that 6 million SMEs need to be energised and galvanised. In the UK that is 61% of total employment. With 17 million workers.

None can escape their responsibilities. Each must take a role in confronting the Climate Emergency and accelerating their business or association to a net zero carbon economy.

CAFA will help and guide you down this path which you may not have even begun to think about.

You need to do this urgently.

At Thinking the Unthinkable (TTU) we are delighted to partner with CAFA to help its radical ambition. We will support CAFA’s work to open eyes and minds to the urgency of what you need to commit to.

Catch up with us on CAFA’s digital breakfasts here and find out more on what we do and how we can help guide you at

The challenge is enormous. But time is desperately short.

What can you do?

After he urged business to be “behind us” Alok Sharma told the CBI, “so please switch to clean power, swap polluting vehicles for those that have zero emissions, and commit to remove deforestation from your supply chains. Let’s seize the opportunity”.

Find out more about Thinking the Unthinkable below:


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