Don’t go back to your old vices

Martin port

By Martin Port

13 November 2020

13th November 2020 – This has been a big week for the world. First, Joe Biden triumphed in the US presidential election, ushering in a new era for the Democrats.

Then, the news announced that a new coronavirus vaccine is looking more and more promising. Could this nightmare pandemic be almost over?

These two things got me thinking about the future of the UK…

Biden is a very different leader to Trump. He has already said that tackling climate change is going to be top of his agenda as President. This is something I wholeheartedly support.

With news of an imminent vaccine, I worry that here in the UK, and perhaps around the world, we are going to forget all the hard-learned lessons of 2020. I fear that sustainability will go on the back burner as we all rush to live life to the full. And who can blame us, after the sacrifices we all made this year?

During the first lockdown, I remember being blown away by the stillness of the roads. The skies seemed bluer than ever before, unpolluted by the fumes emitted by cars and planes. Research shows that the coronavirus caused the biggest ever drop in carbon emissions – the International Energy Agency believes the drop is as much as 8% this year. That’s six times greater than the fall in carbon emission during the 2008 recession[1].

In 2020, we all learned to appreciate nature more than ever before. The first lockdown was a difficult time for many, but there were moments of great clarity about what matters in this life.

So, before we all start planning a dozen holidays in warm places, or prepare to start driving every day – or commuting to work, let’s all take a pause. COVID-19 may pass but climate change is still the greatest threat that our planet faces. All business leaders, myself included, need to be thinking about how to achieve zero net emissions as soon as possible.

At BigChange, I’m really proud that we help our customers to minimise their impact on the environment, and we do that while saving them money and improving efficiency. Our planning technology helps mobile workforces across the UK, France, and the US to make fewer journeys, spend less time on the road, and eliminates paperwork; we currently save more than 3,000 trees a year across our customer base.

But I know we need to do more, both for our customers and as a business. In the US, climate change will be front of mind for every organisation next year. We mustn’t fall behind here in the UK. We need to keep pace with new technologies or risk being left behind in the great shift to a greener economy. This is clearly a priority for the UK Government too. On Thursday it announced that it is investing in green industries, and will create 2m jobs over the coming decade.

At BigChange, we are making small changes to make a big impact. We plan to continue working remotely, with only small teams coming into the office. My colleagues will no longer be driving to see prospective customers, unless that customer is unable to meet digitally. BigChange has now reduced its own mileage by 850,000 miles a year, cutting emissions by 340,000kg – this is the same amount of CO2 a Boeing 737 would produce if it flew for 158 days without stopping. We are doubling down on our mission to reach zero emissions, and we’ll be analysing every part of the business to try and get to that goal faster, and more effectively.

We will also continue to look for ways to improve our technology to help our customers minimise their negative impact. We will celebrate the best initiatives we see, and help to spread the word about green schemes.

We are also learning a lot from these ambitious, innovative customers. Take Fleetsolve, which develops sustainable power solutions for brands like Tesco and London School of Economics. It helps its customers switch to renewable biofuels, and we help Fleetsolve to maximise efficiency and run a paperless business, which helps them win more business. It’s a virtuous cycle.

It feels like we can all finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. In six to 12 months, perhaps 2020 will feel like a distant memory. But we mustn’t go back to our old ways. We need to build on all we’ve learned during this year, and focus our energy on preserving this planet for future generations. And maybe throw a very small party…

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