A Five-Step Climate Program for Stalled Leaders
The world’s attention is on Ukraine, but the climate crisis won’t wait for peace
The other day, a Twitter follower admonished me to forget the climate crisis; Ukraine was more important. While I share his sympathy for the tragedy unfolding in the war, it’s not as simple as that. We don’t get to choose our crises, or stagger them. By the time there is peace in Ukraine, it could be too late to impact our climate. And there is much that can be started today.
Most crises (like the pandemic) command our attention because they are immediate, in our face. As such, they speak to the short-termism that is so pervasive in so-called leadership. Most CEOs rose to the COVID challenge because they couldn’t not do so. But climate is a crisis they find easy to ignore.
Some of this is due to delayed impact. Most of the time, we can’t see or hear, feel or photograph it, yet. Which may explain why, in a recent PwC survey of 4,446 CEOS, over half (57%) said that their companies didn’t emit greenhouse gases — thereby demonstrating they didn’t even understand the crisis. 55 percent admitted they had no means of measuring emissions. Many that I talk to feel an undertow pulling them to do something, but they don’t know where to start or who to hand the problem to. A lethal mix of ignorance, passivity and distraction, they simultaneously know they ought to act but can’t see where or how or why.
So here’s a 5 step programme. It isn’t comprehensive; it’s just designed to break a toxic stalemate.
1. Do a quick study of what other companies are doing.
Some are quite generous with their information. Ray Anderson, the legendary leader of Interface, made this a point of principle. Determined to drive his carpet business to the top of “Mount Sustainability” he believed in sharing every new insight and technology he found. It was how he educated suppliers and forged stronger business partnerships. That was in the 1990s. Today, start with Brad Smith’s blogs for Microsoft. The corporation has real expertise; use it. It’s accessible. Commercial. Real. And aims to reach carbon negative by 2030.