COP26 - what's your take?

ended 06. November 2021

This week and next, all eyes will be on Glasgow, where world leaders will gather to discuss the global response to the climate crisis. We sought the views of small business owners around the UK, and asked them what they're doing.

  • Is COP26 a genuine attempt to respond to the climate crisis or just more posturing from governments globally?
  • Are you doing anything as a business to reduce your own carbon footprint?
  • Are small businesses that don't take the climate crisis seriously at a disadvantage in brand terms compared to those that do?
  • What, for you, would be a positive outcome from COP26?

Any other thoughts, jot them down. As ever, 3-4 sentences will do. Soundbites, not War and Peace. 


13 responses from the Newspage community

Star Quote
"The climate crisis has become so serious that all businesses, large, medium, small and micro, need to think long and hard about what they can do to reduce their carbon footprints, and they need to do it now. Small businesses need to take as much action as big businesses, as there's often as assumption that "we're too small to make a difference". That's simply not the case when looked at collectively. And from a commercial point of view, failing to act could be damaging for a small company's brand if it doesn't make an effort. Let's hope COP26 opens people's eyes as to what is needed to look after our planet for the future of our children."
Star Quote
"As COP26 begins in earnest, I sincerely hope it creates real change and results in action not words. For the sake of us all, and generations to come, we have to act before it's too late. We should also celebrate all small businesses that are genuinely carbon neutral and accept that it is possible to sell products that do not destroy the planet. My own fashion business, Birds Can Fly, began as eco-friendly, with all my nature-themed clothing printed by a company that is certified as carbon neutral. It’s print-on-demand so there’s no unwanted stock and all the materials are kind to the environment. As my work is inspired by nature, I had no moral choice but to make products that don't harm our planet. I’m a speck amidst the hordes of vast corporations that claim to be green, but which are sadly far from it."
Star Quote
"The climate crisis is a funny one for governments to navigate. Sadly, most of it comes over as posturing and a blame game, lots of talk of targets and well-crafted soundbites rather than tangible actions. I want to see our Government push to take unpopular decisions because it's the right thing to do rather than chase the popular vote or looking good at a conference. There are so many small businesses like mine who put the planet at the heart of their offering. I think in the current market consumers want to feel good about their decisions and their spending so you'd be foolish to ignore the demands of conscious consumerism. If we can do it on a small scale then governments can do a lot more on a bigger scale to prove that they are actually serious about the future of our planet."
Star Quote
"It's time for the empty rhetoric to stop and for political and business leaders alike to grasp the nettle. As SMEs, we can all do our bit but without total commitment from those in power our efforts will be wasted. In my business, we've been investing in renewable energy with Solar Panels and Air Source Heat Pumps and have just signed up to be Carbon Neutral within a couple of months and have even taken steps to be Carbon Negative. We are actively directing our business to supply more sustainable products but until our clients, including Government organisations, accept and appreciate the value we'll always be struggling to compete against the cheaper, but less sustainable, options available."
Star Quote
"I'd like to think COP26 is a genuine attempt to move things forward. I get a little sceptical, though, when the response of lots of delegates trapped at London Euston unable to get their planned train to Glasgow (ironically due to a tree being blown onto the line), is to dash to Heathrow and Gatwick and fly to Glasgow. Would it not have been more eco-friendly to wait for a train or coach, even if that meant postponing the journey to tomorrow, rather than leap on a plane? Or is it a case of, 'I care about the environment until it interrupts my plans, then what the heck, I will just go back to my old ways'?"
"We have been making small changes over the past 12 months to reduce our carbon footprint, such as replacing packaging and using less packaging. One recent change has been implementing QR codes with our subscription boxes rather than providing a printed guide in the box."
"In the property and mortgage market, this is one of the biggest topics of conversation at present, with pressure on lenders to ensure that, in the future, their property stock is energy efficient. At present we have just seen tinkering round the edges with so-called "green mortgages" nothing more than a very slight cost-saving for those who have more efficient homes. There needs to be some serious banging of heads together to come up with a solution and the onus should very be on a sizeable Green Government Grant to help those who will not be able to borrow more funds to improve their homes. In terms of small businesses, there is a whole new generation of clients who, quite rightly, expect to see their own values reflected in the companies they do business with, whether in the form of more down-to-earth communication, diversity of people and thought, or a real commitment to companies that look after the planet and are seeking to become carbon-neutral. This needs to come from the very top and cannot be just a tick-box exercise but a deep commitment to making a change and leading from the front."
"This is a real opportunity to address the global climate crisis. It's encouraging to see that general awareness and concern regarding climate change is increasing. Hopefully this will now start to translate into changes in behaviour. But to be effective, people need to understand which changes will have the biggest impact. For example, studies show that investing your pension in sustainable funds is far more efficient for reducing your carbon footprint than eating less meat. Relatively modest lifestyle adjustments are all well and good, but to make a real difference, people need to put their money where their mouth is. On a separate note, it's a shame COP26 is being overshadowed by petty nationalistic politics on fishing rights."
"If these world leaders are genuinely interested in climate change then put in place shorter timescales, such as a 3 or 5 year plan, rather than set targets of 2030, 2050 etc. Also, if they really cared about the environment, they would be doing this Cop26 by Zoom, not zooming around the world in planes."
"Let's cut the crap. COP26 is a chance for the leaders to strut about pretending they're going to do something when in reality they aren't because to do what is needed would result in civil war. No politician or group of politicians can sort this existential crisis out as it will be far too unpopular to do so. Humanity has knackered the planet, and anyone who really understands science and human behaviour knows that we've f****d it as a species. "Tinkering around at the edges with paper straws and biodegradable coffee cups doesn't do anything. For example, just 1% of the global population are responsible for 50% of all aviation emissions. Take the fact that emissions will rise as third world countries become more prosperous and want to purchase more goods and services as their middle classes expand. That we've got a complete idiot in Brazil allowing deforestation on a scale not seen before, and the Siberian perma-frost thawing at such a rate that we're almost at the point of no return, once that landmass starts releasing its methane that's been trapped for thousands of years. The MIT paper, "The Limits To Growth", published in 1972, 50 years ago, postulated if we continued on the current trajectory, we would be facing societal, economic and climate breakdown by 2040. Sadly, it appears we are right on track."
Lets save the planet by flying to a confrence to talk about not flying to confrences. Its all well and good talking about it, but action needs to be taken to make it easier, im not talking about gluing myslef to the M25, but more incentives to help make us greener. We do what we can as a small business, but its not cheap for us to do.
"As has been shown with the pandemic, Governments can move mountains when they need to. On the subject of climate change, the response has been slow on an issue that has been on the table for at least two decades. Rampant consumerism is intrinsically linked with climate change, and most of the western world is made up of committed capitalist societies that rely on neverending growth. So there needs to be a systemic change in order to shift the needle on the climate crisis, a strategy with substance and not just idle marketing speak. "On the high street, people are increasingly demanding products that are more natural, ethically produced, and that have less impact on the environment. Each of my clients is doing all they can to reduce plastic, to aim for zero waste, and to remove preservatives in preference for naturally produced ingredients to respond to this demand — and also because it’s the right thing to do. This research and development takes time and money which, ironically, consumers are unhappy to pick up the cost on with the products they buy."
I hope COP26 will change the future for our planet as it looks bleak right now. Posturing time has ended, greenwashing must too - we need solid actions, clear interventions and the UK needs to lead by example - global changes start at home. We need to address pollution in all its forms - sewage in our waterways, plastics, landfill, energy and our carbon footprint. There are more purpose-led businesses on our high streets than ever before, so the tide is turning at local levels, but this needs to be led now from the top, nationally and internationally. Future generations will either blame us or thank us for the actions we ALL take now.