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Why we need to act and continue acting for the planet

KI’s co-founder, Gary Pope on why it’s time we started thinking about how to really engage children with how the industry is acting on climate change.

Last week the High Court found that the British Government was basically full of bullshit.

No surprise there perhaps.

But this bullshit is in danger of triggering an existential threat. And I am not even joking.

Client Earth Communications, working with Friends of the Earth and The Good Law Project proved that our government had not adequately demonstrated that its policies would enable it to meet legally binding carbon targets. It was discovered during the court case that the Government’s plans only added up to 95% of the reductions needed to meet the sixth carbon budget, but this information was not included in the net zero strategy. And, critically, the reliability of this figure as a realistic estimate remains in doubt.

These failings mean the UK Government has breached its legal duties under the 2008 Climate Change Act.

As a global community we need to hit some pretty robust targets by 2030 to prevent a global climate increase of 1.5°C and ensure at least some semblance of a future for our planet. Limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) needs greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43% by 2030. Methane also needs to be reduced by about 30%.

The sad reality is that this is not going to happen and we will exceed this temperature threshold. But we may be able to get things back to normal by the end of the century if we really put our shoulders to the wheel. Our politicians’ illegal action just demonstrated that the frameworks the UK has in place to play its part, won’t cut the mustard. And I always thought mustard was pretty easy to cut.

So we’re going to have to take control of some of this ourselves – and that is really, really hard. For example, let’s take quarterly reporting. I get it. Quarterly reporting ensures the whirlygig of commerce keeps turning on its short-term cycle and ensures we don’t look to a 2030 horizon. Instead we’re tasked with hitting a number in the immediate term that will keep our businesses moving forward. In our PE, VC, Start-Up, Unicorn obsessed economy, delivering good news to an aggressive stakeholder set seems to be the oxygen of business. But when the world is actually suffocating, maybe we need to think differently.

As an educator by profession, one of my greatest influences has always been Maria Montessori. She understood the importance of the whole child, something mainstream education is only just getting its head around. She once said: “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” Maybe it’s also time that we need to start thinking about how we really engage children.

I’ve always thought the term Generation Alpha, like Generation X, Y and Z, was a bit silly. But I’ve changed my tune of late.

You see, Gen Alpha are here at the start of the push back. They are more vocal, connected and activist-focused than any of their forebears. They are the ones that, if we choose to support them, will drive consumer choice in the direction of sustainability and the oldest of them is just 12. Suddenly, Gen Alpha seems to have greater meaning and resonance. Maybe it’s them we should be looking to ensure greater possibilities for the future.

I know that consumers, right now, more than ever in (almost) living memory are driven by price. But the price that they will have to pay is so much greater than the one on the swing tag if the world doesn’t get its act together. And I reckon the key to this is to get the kids onside. Tell them what you are doing to sustain the planet and they will tell their friends and their parents. If you’ve not yet doubled down on how you can help the planet, now is the time to do so. And in case you didn’t know, Products of Change is here to provide the whole industry with the knowledge and support every business needs to continue thriving without contributing to the avoidable planetary damage.

Sam Hunter-Jones, ClientEarth lawyer said in a statement following the High Court decision last week: “It’s not enough for the UK Government simply to have a net zero strategy, it needs to include real-world policies that ensure it succeeds. Anything less is a breach of its legal duties and amounts to greenwashing and climate delay.”

She’s right. And from what I can see we work in an industry that is committed to ensuring a future for our children, our businesses and our planet. So we need to act and continue acting. Get those policies in place and stick to them. It’s hard but it is also right. At KI we work across many industries, but the licensing industry – as well as being the most collegiate and kind – is also the one that actually does care about the impact its products have on the planet. I am proud to be a very small contributor to an industry that is respecting children and thinking of their future.

BLE is just around the corner now. If you’re not a member, or if your company is not a member, please drop by the Products of Change stand and join up. Together we can make the difference for tomorrow and the next day and the one after that…

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