One of my favourite British bands, James once declared “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor”. Mankind faces a similar problem today; we have become accustomed to the lifestyle that the burning of fossil fuels has allowed us, and we can’t go back.
Travel, technology and infrastructure all require huge amounts of energy, which for centuries we have obtained from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Such is our reliance on these fuels, we have been slow to admit that something needs to change. We aren’t going to need less energy any time soon, quite the opposite in fact, so the change must come in the form of a cleaner source of energy.
The journey to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy has been moving at glacial speed for some time, but has gathered momentum over the last couple of years. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend further, and many of the world’s biggest economies have now adopted ambitious targets for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The election of President Biden over the pond should also be a catalyst for change, with 189 countries now signed up to the 2015 Paris climate accord. The transition is gathering so much pace, that the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that renewables will overtake coal as the biggest source of power generation by 2025.
As the transition to clean energy develops, it’s becoming clear that anyone who does not take the green revolution seriously will eventually get left behind. In this brave new world, a new set of winners will emerge, and the companies who blaze a trail are likely to be rewarded. Just as those countries who rely on exporting fossil fuels could see their power diminish in the race to renewables, companies who fail to make the world a better place may soon find themselves out in the cold. This pressure will come not only from new laws and regulations, making it harder for them to do business, but from the public too. As we have seen with the rise of Greta Thunberg and the popularity of Sir David Attenborough, people are alive to the issue, and are demanding that businesses do more than simply offer great products and services.
While there is an onus on Government to lead the way, many of the hard yards must be done by businesses themselves. Despite all the good news around the shift to renewables, we still have a long way to go and making the transition won’t be easy. Similarly, there will be a lot of pain along the way for brands as they re-define their purpose and make tough decisions on their future. While some may shy away from the inevitable to avoid short-term issues, the risk involved in doing so, both to reputation and the company bottom line, poses a far greater threat long-term.
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), hosted by the UK later this year, offers a unique opportunity for brands who are leading the way to showcase their green credentials on the global stage. At Lansons we are supporting those who want to take part, while helping our clients ensure they remain relevant in tomorrow’s world. By embracing the unavoidable transition to a sustainable future today, businesses can be a leading light on ESG, showing others that the green revolution isn’t something to fear.
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