Green utilities firm Ecotricity has publicly declared a climate emergency, vowing to “upgrade” its current sustainability commitments to become a carbon-neutral business by 2025.
In the wake of the Extinction Rebellion climate protests, the chief executives of Unilever, Solarcentury the Body Shop, Toast Ale and Ecotricity’s founder Dale Vince publicly backed the protestors by “declaring a climate emergency” through the XR Business coalition.
In a letter published in the Times, the XR Business coalition pledged to address the issue within their own companies. On Monday (20 May), Vince announced that Ecotricity would pursue the carbon-neutral goal for 2025.
“Today we are declaring a Climate Emergency, joining some 500 local government organisations around the world that have already done so,” Vince said in a post on Facebook. “As far as I can tell no other business has yet done this, they need to – ‘business as usual’ is a major part of the problem.
“It looks quite straightforward to me. We have a long-standing environment policy to ‘become a zero carbon company at our earliest opportunity’ – this is in alignment with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, which came along more recently, in December 2015. We’re going to upgrade this commitment by putting a date on it. We’re choosing the XR target date of 2025 – to be net carbon neutral or zero carbon – however you like to express it.”
Vince said that the company would “blend” the methodologies outlined by the Paris Agreement and the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) net-zero guidance report to the UK Government to reach the goal.
The UN approach to net carbon neutrality allows for offsetting measures to be implemented across any nation, whereas the CCC’s report suggests offsets should be limited to only occur in the host country. Vince’s football club, Forest Green Rovers has achieved carbon neutrality through the UN methodology.
The CCC recommends that a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be legislated “as soon as possible”. Such a target would constitute the UK’s “highest possible ambition” to combatting climate change and would “send a much stronger signal internationally”. And crucially, this net-zero target could be achieved at the same cost that is currently put against achieving the current Climate Change Act, which is between 1-2% of GDP in 2050.
As the report was published, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion for the UK parliament to become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency – recognition that legislative action to date has been insufficient. And in a hugely symbolic moment, that motion was passed.
“So right now we’re working on the details,” Vince added. “We’re looking at what it will take to offset our residual carbon footprint (which for the last year was 760 tonnes) with a UK based habitat creation scheme – taking a piece of land and giving it back to nature. I don’t know yet quite what that will take, what area of land or extent of tree planting – but I’m confident that we can hit or beat that 2025 XR target. We have to.
“Of course it will be easier for some companies to do than for others – but there’s no excuse for not getting started now. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, you need to do this! Adopt a target then Measure, Reduce and Offset your way to it. Let’s get this ball rolling.”