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Why brands, not government, will save us all.

Why brands, not government, will save us all.

The UN’s Climate Change Conference, or COP26, is underway. It’s an event that will certainly impact the future of business as a growing community of global advocates and world leaders call on brands to step up to address issues of climate change more swiftly than politics and policies can prioritize them.

Here’s what you need to know as you encounter headlines and social media conversations on COP26 in the coming weeks. Our Sustainability team will also monitor developments in order to put together a list of key takeaways that will likely impact business-as-usual.

What is COP26?

The UN’s Climate Change Conference, or COP (Conference of the Parties), is a two-week summit dedicated to discussing climate change and the actions necessary to keep temperature increase within 1.5 degrees celsius of warming by 2030. To put this into context, while progress is being made, current policies put us on pace for 3 degrees celsius by 2100, which would have a devastating effect. The conference has been an annual event since 2005 when the Kyoto Protocol was signed; the 2015 conference resulted in the Paris Agreement

Why is this meeting such a big deal?

To say there is a lot of hype, excitement and expectation around this year’s event is a serious understatement, especially after the annual summit was delayed last year due to the pandemic. What’s more, the world’s top climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published research in 2021 that effectively called a Code Red for Humanity. The science tells us if we can keep a temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, there is still time to save people, communities and ecosystems from the worst impacts of climate disaster — but only if we take unprecedented action now. 

What does it hope to achieve?

One of the goals of the conference is for countries to submit new, more ambitious goals to help achieve our collective global targets — what we call nationally determined contributions or NDCs. However, early analysis shows the gap between what countries have committed to and what’s needed will not be closed by the time Glasgow finishes. The US, for example, is committed to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 based on a 2005 baseline. However, the US administration failed to get consensus on legislation that will help them achieve these carbon reductions. 

Brands to the rescue?

Brands can be the catalyst to drive the political will that can save us all from the devastating effects of extreme weather due to climate change. The United Nations Race to Zero coalition is the world’s largest coalition of businesses that are committed to climate action, 21% of the world’s largest brands, serving a billion people worldwide and representing 15% of the global economy are geared for change. The more brands say they are willing to line up and take action, the more governments can get closer to their national goals. Think Google, Tesla, Coca Cola, L’Oréal, Levi Strauss, and IKEA, beloved brands that are also part of Race to Zero through the Business Ambition for 1.5C target.  

Takeaway: Expect lots of interesting brand activism and action on climate over the next two weeks. Consider the Vegetarian Butcher, a plant-based meat business owned by Unilever with an ambition to become the largest butcher in the world of meat without animals. The brand recently launched a campaign to ask world leaders to put a reduction in meat consumption on the agenda, a move to address 18% of global greenhouse gas emission. The campaign, Face the Elephant in the Room, uses AR digital technology to remind policy makers the impact of meat consumption cannot be ignored.    

As whole brand-builders, we will be following both policy outcomes and brands standing up for them as great examples of #brandclimateaction. Be sure to tag @Barkley if you find a gem.

How you can participate during COP26

There are plenty of ways to stay connected on what’s happening at COP26 

Top 5 Twitter Feeds to Follow

  1. @COP26 Official updates from the UN conference
  2. @UNFCC Official account of UN Climate Change
  3. @PEspinosaC Patricia Espinosa C, Executive Director of UN Climate Change
  4. @topNigel Nigel Topping UN High Level Climate Action Champion for #COP26
  5. @WMBtweets We Mean Business Coalition 

And follow the hashtag #COP26 #COP26Glasgow #Climatetalks #ClimateAction #RacetoZero to stay up to date as the news unfolds. 

Top Virtual Events 

No ticket to Glasgow? No Problem! Many of the public events are also live-streamed. Here is a link to live virtual events taking place over the next two weeks.

  1. UN Climate Change Conference Green Zone - Subscribe to the COP26 YouTube Channel to see talks, performances at the intersection of science, the arts, and activism. 
  2. Business Pavilion for Climate Leadership Blue Zone - Check out this series of events sponsored by We Mean Business, designed to catalyze climate leadership bringing together business and civil society organizations to go all in for 1.5℃.
  3. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development - Scan this curated list of business-relevant events across pavilions at the conference across multiple industries

What should you do next?

If you have a science-based target, congratulations. Use this moment to tell your stakeholders about it and show how your business is already aligned with the future we need. Remember to tag your posts with the hashtag #COP26 #climateaction.

If not, it’s time to get busy. Taking inventory of your business across your total value chain and identifying how you can take the necessary steps to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions in line with what science says is necessary to keep world temperatures within a 1.5C increase by 2030.

Let the talks begin! 


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filed under:
B Corp,Culture,Purpose,Sustainability,Whole Brands


B Corp, Culture, Purpose, Sustainability, Whole Brands
B Corp, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Research, Sustainability, Whole Brands
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