Cutting through the green noise
Alison Taylor, Managing Director:
Whatever impact the pandemic has had on your life, we have all been forced to make changes to our routines and have found ourselves reflecting on and comparing our lifestyles before and during, while dreaming of what might be to come as we learn to live alongside COVID-19. The pandemic has reminded us all how fragile the human race is and that, for all our dominance over the planet and its resources, we are still at the mercy of nature and, when she roars, we need to take heed!
Whether or not the events of the past year have had a direct impact on people’s political persuasions, for the first time that I can remember the Green Party was celebrating this May, although, as the BBC so eloquently put it when commenting on council seats won by the party: “We should be clear: that’s a rise from a very small number, to a slightly bigger small number.” But I hope it is an indication that the tide is finally beginning to turn.
For decades, nature has been providing evidence of her destruction under humans stewardship. But governments have dragged their heels, argued, set and delayed deadlines. Yet, the pandemic has shown us just how fast and decisively governments and corporations can mobilise when they see that there really is no other option. Before last year, I had never heard of furlough or lockdown in the context of a whole country in peacetime and I never dreamed that ‘Essential Travel Only’ would be a familiar road sign.
So, now that we’ve all witnessed the rapid crises response to the pandemic of those who wield the most power, I hope that we will see similar leadership and command in response to the climate crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I know with 100% certainty that every little thing that each individual does to make their lifestyle more sustainable makes an essential contribution to the collective effort to save our planet. But I also know that the real power to make the level of dramatic and lasting change that the world needs rests with governments and large corporations. Only through legislation and bold leadership will we secure a sustainable future for generations to come.
However, one of the unfortunate consequences of the pandemic has been the erosion of trust in governments – the Edelman Trust Barometer shows that businesses are now more trusted than governments across the world. This means that much of the responsibility for progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals must lie with corporations.
So, as businesses adjust their strategies and operations to the meet the demands of their post-COVID markets, there is an exciting and quite liberating opportunity for them to demonstrate brave vision and leadership, and to cut through the green-noise that dominated pre-2020. How can they do this? Well, in a world where trust in authority and the media is so diminished, it is those businesses that show evidence and meaningful long-term measurement of their strategies for addressing climate change, that will be heard, followed and that will win the long game, for everyone.