Sustainable Business Series 2022: Decarbonising key sectors – a technology or a leadership question?

Worksmith Ltd

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2022 Sustainable Business Series.

The Sustainable Business Series seeks to help local firms understand the role that they play in progressing to net zero, as well as the opportunities and challenges that may arise from the net-zero transition. Through an expansive range of blogs, webinars, events and podcasts, the Sustainable Business Series offers useful information to businesses interested in adopting a sustainable business approach.

See the Sustainable Business Series webinar’s and events here.

Carbon reduction in key industry areas has become a major focus point. Rightly so, without the biggest contributors to carbon emissions on board we would never manage to reach our carbon reduction targets on time. And time is of essence. The speed and scale of the required transition has never been seen before.

Local business leaders will be aware of the pressures coming from investors, supply chains, customers, employees, local communities and more. Last but not least, your company’s environmental credentials will also influence your chances of attracting and retaining talent. The “Fridays for Future” generation is now preparing to enter the workforce, seeking roles aligned with their values.

Everyone is asking the question “What are YOU doing for the climate?”.

Globally, we have roadmaps, targets and goals and we work on technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of materials and operations. There are also stylish examples shown in press coverage of green designs and expensive technical applications.

But how can we start decarbonising key sectors in Birmingham, in a looming recession, under high inflation, on low budgets?

Let’s start here and now, let’s be pragmatic and start with small affordable steps. Carbon reduction is possible in every industry, in every activity, night and day, and every bit counts.

But let’s also be bold and show leadership. Ever since the Lunar Society’s times, Birmingham has been famous for its ingenuity and drive for advancement. We now have the unique chance to show leadership again and do everything in our power to decarbonise our region.

What can be done and who will take part?

Reducing carbon by whatever means possible must be the mantra.

Take leadership by raising awareness and by educating your employees to become carbon literate. Inform about impacts, urgency and also share successes. Encouragement and continuous support will empower everyone to take positive action and be innovative.

Reusing, repurposing, preserving, extending lifespans and reducing wastage are not phrases for your sustainability reports but should be an integral part of every commercial activity.

Be transparent and communicate your aspirations. Commitment to a common goal starts with your thought leadership. Use your circle of influence to generate change. From the corporate Secretary to Finance, Communications, Legal, HR and Talent Management; all can be your decarbonisation allies. Reach out and influence the carbon footprints of your supply chains.

Speak with your competitors, your local business neighbours and your friends in business networks about your sustainability goals. Exchange case studies of successes and learnings elsewhere. Start implementing. 

And let’s not forget the consumer. Especially the key sectors with their large customer and end-user groups play an important part in the behaviour change of society.

As more people are involved in decision-making and actions, the chances of behaviour change increase, and we are more likely to ask and answer the big questions: why are we doing this? The answer has to be: for our bold vision of a zero-carbon future. For people, for nature - for us.

Beate Pesian
Co-founder and director of Worksmith Ltd