It’s been talked-up for months, but last week the Prime Minster finally fired the starting gun on what he promises will be a bold, ambitious race to radically transform the UK into a green economy.
The announcement couldn’t come soon enough. A growing global consensus on the climate crisis means many businesses and individuals are already taking steps to reduce their own impact on the world and play their part in helping to reverse some of the profound damage inflicted on the planet in recent decades.
As head of Environment, Sustainability and Governance at KPMG in the UK, I’ve seen first-hand how corporate leaders are moving from acknowledgement to action. In our 2018 Global CEO Survey, there was no mention at all of climate risk or decarbonisation. The following year’s findings revealed 75% of industry leaders regarded the issue as one of the biggest risks facing their company.
Growing investor and consumer pressure have helped to drive environmental, societal and governance issues up the board room agenda in recent months and year. Now, with political leaders fully embracing the fight, it’s clear the UK is finally ready to start tackling the issues that have often played second-fiddle to profit and growth.
While some of Downing Street’s policy announcements were clear – such as a 2030 ban on diesel and unleaded car sales, and a commitment to 40GW of offshore wind in the next decade – investors will be eager to see far more detail and delivery mechanisms. The upcoming Energy White Paper should fill some of the gaps, but policy statements and grand ambitions need to be followed up with clear actions that can be embraced by the business community.
A recent global survey by KPMG and the law firm Eversheds, which included more than 160 of Britain’s biggest business leaders, revealed 82% of CEOs and CFOs were already actively discussing climate change in their boardroom. But, only 8% reported having a fully-fledged plan in place. While some of the responsibility lies with business decision makers themselves, it’s clear the corporate world wants to act, but is struggling to understand how and where it can make a real difference.
As we edge closer to a potential vaccine for COVID-19, and to COP26 in Glasgow next year, we have an opportunity to start working more collaboratively on a shared, national approach to climate risk. For the first time, it feels like everyone is on the same page. Let’s take that agreement and make 2021 the year when the UK really does ‘level-up’ and builds a lasting green revolution.