Have we missed an opportunity to reset our economy and society on a sustainable pathway to combat the worst of climate change? Boris Johnson’s ‘build build build’ cry is to have little substance in meaningfully reducing carbon emissions.
As traumatic as this health crisis has been, it offered a rare window of introspection. We were presented with an exciting list of opportunities to rebuild a Great Green Britain including; retrofitting, housing stock energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, eradication of fuel poverty, cutting carbon emissions, extensive EV infrastructure roll-out, a diesel scrappage scheme, incentives for EV purchasing, and investment into renewables. We hope these opportunities are not lost.
At The Planet Mark we relentlessly champion direct action in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss and encourage every organisation to directly contribute to society. We do this predominantly with the business community because individuals in these organisations understand these are the most important issues of our time.
In light of Boris Johnson’s announcement today, we will be redoubling our efforts and calling on all organisations in the UK economy to ‘build build build’, but with the environment, society, and the economy in mind.
We appeal to every developer, construction company and subcontractor to build back better. If we are to build new roads, let them be the pathways for zero carbon transport and actively reduce embodied carbon during their construction.
We may be proven wrong, but perhaps we were misguided in assuming this government would do the right thing. We have always placed our faith in businesses to lead the way and today that has been evidenced once more. We appeal directly to every business out there to drive the sustainability agenda.
And let us repeat the business case for sustainability: Organisations with strong sustainability strategies outperform those that don’t. Those that cut carbon save money, that people want to support ethical brands with their spending, that companies that embrace sustainability attract talent and reduce employee turnover. The bottom-line proves that sustainability is good for business, and so business is good for society and the environment.
A recent poll from YouGov found that only 6% of the population want to return to the pre-lockdown economy, an appetite for change mirrored across a string of policy briefings and open letters issued to the Prime Minister and his government, imploring decision makers to align the UK’s recovery package with net-zero targets.
There was always a risk that, in their haste to kickstart economies post-Covid-19, governments might fall into a default of investing and providing stimulus to traditional sectors and companies, the usual suspects of big corporations and organisations with a history of polluting and of embedded fossil fuels. Reviewing the policies that make up this ‘New Deal’, Johnson’s plan to ‘build, build, build’ includes allocating £100Mfor a road-building programme and a deregulation of the housing market.
A myriad of businesses, green groups and thought leaders have urged more targeted, specific and ambitious action on decarbonisation as part of the green recovery. The New Deal makes no reference of carbon pricing, the UN SDGs or a holistic approach to transport – all key demands in the build-up to the announcement.
Although not enshrined in this New Deal, the climate crisis will remain at the forefront of political debate with leaders who can embrace and share a vision of the better, safer, healthier world we can create together. This is their time to help build back better and it is ours too.
We established The Planet Mark to help individuals in organisations to drive measurable change and enjoy the process. The programme helps unearth the passion and knowledge of people inside every company who care about society and the environment.
It is incumbent on all of us to consider what is next and what role we can play in creating an economy that helps us tackle the issues of our time, and this is where we must all work together. This is a place where organisations, businesses and brands must step in to provide support. This is our space and our time to make change happen.
You could be in one such organisation, and you can choose to be part of this movement by adding your support and your voice here. Committing your organisation to the Decade of Action and putting sustainability at the heart of your brand and your purpose will encourage others to follow. We hope you join us. Together we will make a world of difference.