Will you commit to net zero by COP26?
B Lab UK is making a promise to its community: to support every B Corp in the UK to make a Net Zero 2030 commitment by COP26.
By Kate Sandle, Director of Programmes and Engagement at B Lab UK
2021 will clearly be a pivotal year for addressing the climate crisis here in the UK: interest and involvement in November’s COP26 in Glasgow is gaining momentum, while the UK Government has committed to a 68% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade compared to 1990 levels. This target was recently submitted as our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement — the momentous global climate accord which marked its fifth anniversary last month.
And meanwhile, scientific data released yesterday showed that 2020 was the hottest year on record, and that the last seven years have been the warmest since the beginning of modern record-keeping nearly a century and a half ago.
The need for action is clearer than ever and the role of the private sector is crucial.
B Lab UK: A chronology of climate action
We have recognised the responsibility to activate our community. In 2019, B Lab UK published a playbook to inspire and support businesses of all sizes who want to take climate action, declare a climate emergency and engage in meaningful climate advocacy. With over 3,000 downloads, the playbook has gained international traction with translations distributed for use in Latin America and the Middle East.
December 2019 marked the UN’s last Climate Change Conference, COP25, with 533 B Corps setting net zero targets by 2030, signalling the largest business commitment of the event. To reinforce this pledge, B Lab joined the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign, the largest alliance of local governments, businesses, investors making net zero commitments.
This was followed by the launch of the UK Climate Collective in January 2020, with working groups formed to increase progress toward, and understanding of, the interrelationships between climate change and the circular economy, plastic and packaging, and regenerative agriculture. The net zero working group has created a helpful guide for SMEs and will be re-launching the group as a peer-to-peer support team.
As for our own commitments at B Lab UK, we declared a climate emergency in 2019, and in 2020 undertook a review of our own carbon footprint, with reductions made where possible to become net zero.
To date, over 800 B Corps around the world have committed to net zero by 2030, and to demonstrate bold and urgent leadership, in 2020 B Lab set a new, ambitious goal for B Corps — calling for 50% of our global community to commit to a 2030 net zero target by COP26.
With the conference hosted in Glasgow, and the opportunity to show UK leadership, we have made this ambitious promise to our community: B Lab UK will support every UK B Corp to make a Net Zero 2030 commitment by COP26.
Our promise becomes action
Admittedly, we have work to do. Currently there are just under 150 B Corps committed to net zero by 2030. To meet our promise over the next 11 months, we will support our B Corp working groups to share best practice and inspire wider progress in our community. We will continue to collaborate with like-minded organisations and experts to build on our understanding and progress in the journey to net zero. These partnerships include: University of Oxford around offsetting and reaching net zero; Business Declares and understanding our digital footprints; and Make My Money Matter and addressing the role of pensions and the need to divest from fossil fuels.
To equip business leaders with the information and tools they need to approach climate work with equity and justice at the core, the global B Corp Climate Collective will release a Climate Justice Playbook in 2021. B Lab UK is also looking forward to working with Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight to highlight the importance of climate justice.
As the pandemic has shown us, crisis can present the opportunity for innovation and change; for us to adapt and pivot in ways we thought weren’t possible. Similarly, we know that the response of every business, no matter how small, is vital if we are to tackle the climate crisis. So, in the words of Margaret Mead; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Join the B Corp Climate Collective and commit to net zero by 2030.
A first step for businesses interested in measuring their social and environmental impact is by using the free B Impact Assessment tool. Any company wishing to certify as a B Corp has its performance assessed by B Lab across all dimensions of its business. These companies are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure business leverages its power to be a positive force in the world.