As I'm sure you'll have heard by now, the IPCCs report made very grim reading. Increased global flooding, damage to our oceans and waterways that will be irreversible for centuries, and weather extremes getting exponentially worse as global temperatures rise and biodiversity is lost.
One of the major benefits of these reports is that they encourage us to talk about solutions, rather than arguing about the scale of the problem. There were small notes of positivity:
Scenarios with low or very low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1- 2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations, and air quality - IPCC, AR6, 2021
Within 20 years, the effect of taking action right now could have a tangible and direct effect on air quality and greenhouse gas concentrations, with as yet unknown effects on our global communities and natural environments.
To this end, we've purloined a blog from Gartner (sorry Gartner) to help SMEs make decisions about their global emissions in a strategic, focused way - through their value chains.
5 steps to operating consciously
Act with purpose. Actions speak louder than words. If you have a plan to deliver within 10 years, then enact that plan now. If you don't have one, make a commitment via the SME Climate Hub. Speak with suppliers, highlight the things you care about, and set tangible metrics you can communicate to other suppliers and the rest of your business.
Get suppliers engaged early as you review your offering - If you've decided to change what you're selling or what you're providing, feed this back to suppliers earlier than you think. If the lifecycle of your product needs to be net-zero, tell your suppliers and distributors soon after you make that decision, not when you need to collect GHG data. They may have ideas, and they may be taking steps themselves.
Identify your key partners - It's so important to know which partners will make the biggest impact. Don't just consider volume, consider the relationship you have with your main partners and the impact you can have. Your value chain is critical to operating consciously, and knowing without a doubt that your goals are actually being delivered. Working with strong partners is also mutually supportive. It's easier to publicise and communicate what you're doing if there are two people involved.
Make sure your employees understand your purpose. This comes back to having a clear plan, with suppliers, to reach net-zero. If you act consciously and with purpose, employees need to understand and be bought into the reasons for change, and how it affects them. If suppliers are going to be brought into processes earlier, or play a more active role, make sure that your employees have had agency and contributed to which suppliers and the role they are going to play.
Be accountable. Accountability means you aren't expecting short term gains. Acting to build a more purpose-driven value chain can happen over generations, so consider the broader context of why you are making this decision, and what role your company is playing. Purely financially driven metrics risk undermining the approach, and can give the impression that making these changes is a marketing play. Balance financial expectations with purpose driven goals - diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as environmental concerns.