Why Theresa May made that net zero carbon commitment
Many of us were very pleasantly surprised when the supposedly lame duck Prime Minister Theresa May used her last weeks in office to push through a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. For a PM who isn’t renowned for her tree-hugging, it was a most unexpected but welcome move.
Because I had a similar Damascene conversion 22 years ago. I had been an armchair environmentalist, dutifully recycling my glass and paper, but one June morning I found myself standing by a roadside in arctic Russia surveying a vast vista of bleached white tree stumps sticking out of grey dead soil, tasting the acidity in the air of the sulphur emissions from a nickel smelter on the horizon. That’s when I decided to go on my personal environmental crusade.
Both myself and May were being entirely irrational. There could have been local climatic reasons why that glacier was retreating. I could have been looking at the only smelter in the word without flue gas desulphurisation. But we are irrational human beings. Facts make us think, emotions make us act.
This is why experience is a powerful emotional engagement technique. You don’t need to take your colleagues to Russia or Switzerland to make an impact. You could send a delegation to your waste contractor’s site and see the sheer volume of material being processed. Or tip your skips in the carpark and challenge colleagues to pluck out what should be in the recycling bin.
Experiences can be positive too. Nestlé here in Newcastle let employees borrow and electric car for a few days to give them a chance to familiarise themselves with the technology before taking advantage of a discount purchase scheme. You could encourage colleagues to build a wildlife garden. Or, my favourite, get them to suggest Sustainability solutions or help develop your Sustainability strategy.
Anything hands-on will work 100 times better than another bloody Powerpoint presentation!