JOINING THE RACE TO ZERO WITH AND FOR OUR CLIENTS
By Sophie Grimmer
One of the main reasons I joined ICC two years ago was the chance to work on tough projects that, if we succeeded, could make a big difference to our communities. One of the toughest nuts to crack is figuring out how leaders in the public sector can deliver their climate emergency and carbon reduction promises. Our local authority clients are in a race to transform their own organisations as well as the towns and cities they service and they are urgently reviewing what products and services they procure and how. Their plans already go beyond their own direct emissions and in the near future will no doubt extend to all emissions taking place within their town or city.
This work has helped me to grow my own knowledge of climate action and how to shift the way people and organisations think, live, eat and work sustainably without harming our planet. I’ve been part of innovative work such as helping the London Borough of Islington repurpose ambient heat from an unused tube station to heat homes. Another project involves upgrading leisure centres to be partially or entirely carbon neutral.
What’s become clear is that ICC needs to be part of this action, too. We pride ourselves on being a trusted partner to our clients – and that means doing the work alongside them as well as for them.
Last year, we took a key step towards addressing our own impact on the planet by establishing an Environmental Management System. Through this we obtained the ISO14001 accreditation challenging us to follow the same climate standards as our partners and clients. Through this process we have evaluated our current internal position, set realistic objectives towards greener business practices, and engaged our staff to act as advocates for the environment.
We have now also joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Race to Zero initiative, through which we have committed to becoming a net zero carbon company before 2030. As part of this process, we organised a company-wide ideas session – a “Hack” as we call it – to discuss, assess and analyse our business practices from an environmental perspective.
There was a lot of ambition in the room, and by the end of the day we had agreed to widen the scope of our strategy beyond our internal emissions. We gathered ideas for immediate carbon-reducing actions and long-term environmental considerations in our service delivery. We pledged to commit to become carbon neutral before 2030, measure and report our emissions and develop a business-wide Route To Zero strategy and objectives that would reduce both our own emissions and those of all of our related activities and services. We decided too that we wanted to make environmental work a key part of the services we offer and work for climate action as members of society.
Our immediate carbon-reducing activities include eliminating air travel, developing a green procurement policy, offsetting any remaining emissions, and limiting food at the office to vegetarian options. We also piloted the first ever 7 Case Model with a London borough, extending the traditional Treasury 5 Case Model for business case development to introduce Environmental and Equalities Cases and making Net Zero a crucial part of the way we work with our clients.
By making this public commitment and working towards this goal, we hope to attract and retain a workforce that wants to be at the forefront of achieving Net Zero, as well as working with councils and partners who are doing the same. We want to position ourselves as market leaders in the green economy and continue acting as trusted advisors in the Race to Zero. In this way we think we can also help reduce clients’ and our own costs by transitioning to more economical, carbon-neutral activities and operations.
I am proud to be working for a company that wants to make such a significant impact with their work. I am sure becoming a fully carbon neutral organisation will not be easy. But we are determined to try, learn from any mistakes along the way and keep pushing forward.