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Business leaders have a responsibility to step up the climate emergency fight

03 Feb 2020

Natalie Sykes, regional director, Institute of Directors

The climate emergency is a critical issue not just for us nature lovers, but also for business.

As the planet warms, we have seen stark images of Australian infernos and, closer to home, catastrophic flooding. The ten years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record.

Even if you don’t feel passionate about the planet yourself, as a business director or manager you cannot ignore the strength of feeling among your eco-system of customers, consumers, employees and suppliers. In fact, all key stakeholders. Mounting press and media coverage only heightens the need for a call to action.

What’s more, young professionals want to work for organisations with a purpose, that understand and prioritise their impact on the environment.

For me, this should be an essential part of every companies’ corporate governance strategy as we strive to underline that business is a force for good.

Small measures, when taken together, can make a big difference. Whilst economic uncertainty is still evident and skills shortages are very much apparent, how do we reward and attract talent in a way that outshines any incremental pay increase of the average one or two per cent per annum.

One solution has been offered by Dr Alan James, our regional ambassador for transport and infrastructure - a totally electric life!

Speaking at our recent, sold-out North Yorkshire Annual Dinner, Alan shared a way that can care for employees by giving them access to reliable, state of the art electric vehicles heavily subsidised by UK government tax incentives from April this year. Businesses save NIC and benefit from a generous 100% capital allowance in year one.

What is not to like about helping business save tens of thousands of pounds per employee and tens of thousands of tonnes in emissions?  

If you would like to hear more from Alan, he will be with us in York as we launch a series of events in the city from March. Watch out for more details.

In our recently published Corporate Governance manifesto, the IoD proposed a series of 10 policy initiatives which include encouraging a consistent approach to climate-related corporate disclosures.

We are also urging the Government to explore opportunities for the establishment of a UK Sovereign Wealth Fund that will invest in the green and sustainable companies of the future and, in doing so, embed the highest standards of corporate governance across the economy.

Such an entity could be funded through the sale of Government backed bonds to institutional investors looking for secure ESG (Environment, Social, Governance)-oriented investments. It should be overseen by an arms-length body and insulated from political control in order to ensure that the right decisions are made for the long term.

The will is there from business leaders. We are calling on the Government to push on this open door by producing and promoting practical guidance for all companies, regardless of size or industry, on how they can contribute to meeting the 2050 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Boards can then respond by setting a clear strategy and direction that is embedded throughout their organisations. 

It is down to us as responsible business leaders to step up to our global climate emergency and take action. However small or great the step we can make, together we can make a big difference.

  • As we leave the European Union, the IoD is helping directors to understand how this, and other economic trends, are affecting businesses. The Bank of England’s Juliette Healey will be our guest speaker over lunch at The Mansion, Roundhay Park, Leeds on 27 February and at Bar 1884, Hull on 5 March.

Contact IoD Yorkshire

For any membership enquiries please contact branch manager Helena Drake

[email protected]

0113 539 8781

See all our contacts here.

IoD Yorkshire & North East
The Rose Bowl (part of Leeds Beckett University), 
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