Wind turbines
Image credit: Creative Commons, Tom Corser

On May 20, Ecotricity became the first UK company to declare a climate emergency through a Facebook post by its founder Vince Dale. The energy company also set a clear target to achieve zero net emissions by 2025.

The energy company’s pledge comes following a series of high profile protests across the UK by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion, which included bringing parts of central London to a standstill. In his Facebook post, Vince Dale said:

Today, we are declaring a climate emergency, joining some 500 local government organisations around the world that have already done so. As far as I can tell, no other businesses have done this. They need to. Business as usual is a major part of the problem.

His post elaborated further on what his commitments will entail, and commits his company to ‘become a zero carbon company our earliest opportunity’, with a deadline of 2025 to achieve this.

In a statement in early May 2019, Gudrun Cartwright, Environment Director at Business in the Community said:

So, we have now agreed that there is an emergency and we need to act immediately. While the target date is 2050, it is vital to remember that this is the absolute limit. Each year that we stall makes it less likely we will get there.

Businesses must now lead the way by using the opportunities given by this emergency to create new products and services, change systems and processes, inspire and engage new talent and find new markets and customers through showing they are part of the solution, not adding to the problem.

Business undoubtedly has a role to play in tackling the climate crisis, and the community seems now to be waking up to this reality. The business community will ultimately have to act out of self-preservation as a worsening climate crisis risks upsetting the entire economic system of which they are part.

However, whether the business community does enough in time is another question which has yet to be answered.

The declaration of Ecotricity’s founder, even if it might be a cynical attempt to gain some positive PR, is still undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Other businesses should follow suit, and acknowledge the key role they will have to play if we are to avert a climate catastrophe. Time is running out.