To give some context, these are the five desired outcomes of COP26:
- Accelerate the phase-out of coal
- Curtail deforestation
- Speed up the switch to electric vehicles
- Encourage investment in renewables, and;
- Protect and restore eco-systems
These, I am sure you will agree, are a series of significant goals and ones which I personally hope there can be some agreement reached on.
Zero is the hero
As I recently sat and reviewed our Sigma Connected Environmental Policy and Strategy, I was pleased that it feels we are aligning to these five lofty outcomes which if achieved, the world can be proud of.
However, as the company’s chief operating officer, I believe my responsibility lies in two integral areas. I firmly believe that not only should we be setting a target to become net zero as a business and support COP26’s objectives and outcomes, but, as a major employer in the UK, South Africa and Australia, I feel we have a responsibility to educate our colleagues on the initiatives they can personally take to support both the business and the communities in which we live and operate. With this in mind, our approach here at Sigma has been two-fold.
Firstly, we are aiming to be carbon net zero, and secondly, we firmly believe in sustained learning and education around environmental issues.
It’s important that we are ambitious and, backed by the rest of our executive team, I know we can reach net zero by 2030 at the absolute latest. Day-by-day we are reducing the amount of waste going to landfill by utilising recycling bins across our office network and we are planning on working with inspiring and innovative companies such as Terracycle to identify and recycle typically difficult items such as crisp packets and water filters.
Turning to our next big initiative, we are reducing our carbon footprint through planting 1,000 trees across four countries. This alone absorbs 254,050 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere and is just the start of our Sigma Forest initiative which will see us planting a new tree for every new employee who joins us.
In addition to absorbing the CO2, we are also reducing the amount we put into the air through our fossil fuel consumption. This is through initiatives such as restrictions on company mileage, promoting the use of video conferencing and introducing an automatic shut-down of office electrical appliances when not in use.
These are activities that I really hope most other organisations are working through or considering, but at Sigma we believe that the second workstream of our strategy is equally important – educating our employees.
Education, education, education
We have taken a number of significant steps to address the education agenda. Firstly, all employees will be asked to complete an environmental awareness eLearning package as part of mandatory, not optional, training and development. This also highlights to our employees how they can reduce their energy bills at home.
Additionally, we are introducing green ambassadors in who are the go-to people for any questions or ideas on how we can be even better.
Those ambassadors are also key in helping to provide opportunities for all employees to volunteer in their local communities through initiatives that will have a positive impact on the environment.
We have more to do on the education agenda but this is just an overview of where we are right now, and how we are on track.
Overall, I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the COP26 Summit and viewing each speech and decision with genuine interest.
I, like most people, know that action needs to be taken now to ensure that we are leaving a habitable world for the next generation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also summed it up perfectly when he said it is now about action, not blah, blah, blah. It truly is a ‘code red’ situation as Spain’s President Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon stated on Monday afternoon as he took the stage in Scotland’s second city.
I hope that by increasing environmental awareness within our workforce, together with the strides we are taking as a business to become net zero, we are grasping the best and correct opportunities. The time to act is now.
I look forward to hearing from other organisations about the steps they are taking so we can share ideas and best practice.
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