Tackling the climate crisis is everyone’s business

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Business in the Community (BITC) Climate Action Director, Gudrun Cartwright, and Circular Economy Director, Peter Belk, explain how organisations can harness climate action for business benefit.
Image of Gudrun Cartwright and Peter Belk, BITC employees smiling into camera
Peter Belk and Gudrun Cartwright

As businesses deal with the challenges of COVID-19, acting on the climate may not be top of the priority list. But as demands for meaningful progress towards a climate resilient, net zero carbon economy intensify, it is vital that businesses are part of this.

At BITC we know that climate action will drive a resilient economic recovery by:

  • creating jobs where they are most needed
  • saving costs and boosting the bottom line
  • attracting new talent
  • opening new market opportunities.

This year we have a bold goal for 80% of our members to commit to creating climate resilience plans with ambitious net zero carbon targets at their heart. From supporting leaders to understand the risks and opportunities to inspiring employees to act at home, at work and in their communities – BITC has events, content, and advisory support to enable our members to get there.

Find out more about Business in the Community’s events programme

Tackling some of our biggest shared challenges, such as transport, buildings and infrastructure, is central to achieving this as well. There are also milestones on the horizon that are an opportunity for businesses to up their game. So, what should you look out for in the coming months?

Reporting climate-related risks becomes mandatory in the UK

Climate breakdown presents financial risk to the global economy. A global initiative called the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was created by the Financial Stability Board to manage the risks through improved and increased reporting of climate-related financial information.

The TCFD provides a framework for companies to report how they are responding to the risks and opportunities presented by climate change (such as temperature increases, extreme weather, emerging technologies and climate-related policy). The TCFD recommendations cover: governance; strategy; risk management; and metrics and targets.

The UK government has been a strong supporter of the TCFD recommendations and in 2019 formed a government-regulator TCFD taskforce, which is working on a roadmap towards mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosures by 2025, across the UK economy.

From January 2021, UK premium listed companies are required to report in line with the TCFD recommendations within their annual report. Banks, building societies and insurance companies are also subject to similar requirements. The UK taskforce will be holding consultations during 2021 to expand the scope of reporting to cover a much larger proportion of UK businesses from 2022.

The UN’s Climate Negotiations hosted by the UK in November

COP26 – the 26th Convention of the Parties – is where world leaders negotiate climate commitments. Five years on from the Paris agreement – the UN’s global framework to avoid dangerous climate change – and with China committing to action and the USA expected to rejoin the Paris Accord, expectations for a significant increase in demands for business action are high.

As the UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow all eyes will be on the UK’s progress towards climate resilience and net zero carbon. The UK Government is encouraging all businesses to sign up to the aligned commitments Race to Zero and Race to Resilience. Watch this space for new policies and initiatives from governments, investors and others throughout the year, as well as content from BITC to help responsible businesses get the most out of COP26.

Getting started

At BITC we understand that every business is at a different point on their journey to climate resilience.

If you are looking for an overview of managing climate risks, join our webinar on Understanding Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities on 20 January. For businesses considering office reconfigurations and relocations as a result of COVID-19, our webinar Building Back Circular: Low Carbon Workplaces on 13 January will give guidance and launch a new guide to help businesses reduce workplace waste and carbon.

And if you want more detailed support you can work with our advisory team. A great first step is taking part in the Responsible Business Tracker, which is free for BITC members and will enable you to assess your starting point and then measure progress. Our team can then help with:

  • creating your first environmental action plan
  • understanding climate-related risks and opportunities for your business
  • measuring your carbon footprint
  • getting started on a net zero carbon pathway
  • preparing for TCFD reporting and benchmarking where you stand in relation to your peers.

Finally, taking a leadership role with us is a great opportunity to help shape the agenda, learn from others and be at the leading edge of action to tackle the climate crisis. For example, TalkTalk joined BITC in 2020 and worked with our advisory team to help develop their environmental policy and plan. 

By joining and chairing BITC’s Net Zero Carbon Taskforce, TalkTalk has been able to learn from others by co-creating resources and delivering events. One of the benefits has been learning more about the circular economy and how adopting circular principles can help tackle the climate crisis.

 Build back responsibly

Build Back Responsibly is an ambitious campaign by BITC to radically change the expectations and impact of responsible business. Learn more in our report Time to Fix-Up: Our Big Chance for Business to Build Back Responsibly, which outlines how businesses must harness the innovation brought about by the COVID-19 crisis to tackle the challenges facing society.

Join us in harnessing climate action to create new ways to build prosperity for businesses and communities as we emerge from COVID-19. Talk to one of our expert team today to learn how membership of BITC can help you take your responsible business journey further and drive lasting global change.