We spent much of last week with a close eye on the COP26 coverage. For those not in the know, that’s the United Nations Climate Change Conference, attended by leaders from around the world.
UK government’s chancellor, Rishi Sunak, spoke at the summit, claiming that the UK is leading the world in becoming the “first ever net zero aligned global financial centre”. But what does that actually mean?
Well, it sounds like big changes are on the way, including ‘mandatory sustainability disclosures, better and more consistent climate data, climate risk surveillance, and global reporting standards.’
Large UK-based businesses will have until 2023 to get their heads around these guidelines, and from then on, should be able to publicly disclose how they will move to low or zero carbon. And whilst this all sounds rather serious, it has been noted that these climate commitments are not mandatory, which has understandably concerned a number of green groups. Why set targets if they don’t have to be met?
What is net zero?
By achieving net zero, a business finds a balance between emissions and reductions. On a basic level, a company must remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it is producing. In many cases, businesses choose to plant trees or sponsor tree plantations. Whilst this is a well-recognised method, it’s not a like-for-like solution. Planting a young sapling in Madagascar will not magically improve environmental quality in London – trees take years to reach maturity and, of course, we are sequestering the ‘problem’ to another part of the world.
Nevertheless, we are fully behind tree planting as an agency, and applaud the actions of startups like Ecologi. But we know that we cannot save the world by planting trees alone. Offsetting is not a panacea.
So what can we do as a smaller business?
Whilst these seemingly optional regulations won’t directly affect AndAnotherDay, we feel we must be proactive in the way we respond to what we are seeing in the world. In fact, we have been doing so for some time now. If you’ve missed it, we are members of Tech Zero, 1% for the Planet and Oxfordshire Greentech.
You can read more about that here:
- 1% For The Planet: Putting Our Purpose Before Our Profits
- A ‘Positive’ Update: Tech Zero, Net Zero and Oxfordshire Greentech
On a more tangible level, there are things we can do in the way we work and how we operate as a business. A few weeks from now, we will forfeit our beautiful Bracknell office, and the agency will become fully remote for the first time since its formation.
Lily Hill House has been home to AndAnotherDay for two years, but as the world changes around us in response to climate change and indeed the pandemic, we must respond too. Our office is a large studio with perhaps more desks than we need at this stage. The ceilings are high and the windows huge, so as the colder months draw in, it becomes a costly room to heat, let alone keep clean and tidy.
Being remote, we drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the business based on commuting alone. We don’t all drive electric cars just yet, but firing up fewer combustion engines on any given day is an instant win.
AndAnotherDay at home
Of course, remote work has its ups and downs. Weeks can become monotonous as we triangulate from bed, to desk, to sofa. So it’s key that we look after ourselves and one another, that we communicate well, and that we do meet up from time-to-time to remember how we smell and feel. (Steady on.)
As a tech agency, we are already well-prepared for remote working, with many of our processes being easily adaptable by nature thanks to their agility. What remains to be seen is: what else can we do to continue on our journey to net zero?
"Banks and financiers are the lifeblood of the fossil fuel companies and destructive agribusinesses fuelling the climate crisis – so it's right that focus should be on them at COP26. However, today's announcement by banks risks amounting to more greenwashing if it's not legally binding."
Veronica Oakeshott, Global Witness
Committed, because we want to be
It’s a little disheartening to see the big headlines touting a future of net zero corporations, only to find out it’s so easy to opt-out. But even as a humble technology agency from South East England, that’s not going to stop us. We’re all in, and this is what we’ve been thinking, feeling and doing for some time now.
We’re certainly not the first agency to hand back the keys to our abode, but we’ll still document our journey along the way – in the hope that we inspire others too. And who knows, we may return to an office of sorts one day, but we’ll certainly be thinking about it in a very different way.