The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021: A hard-nosed business case for green investment, says Chris Rea of Betterworld.Solutions

A hard-nosed business case for environmentally-friendly investment decisions will help lead the way in the next industrial revolution - the change to a zero-carbon future.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:42 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:44 pm
Chris Rea, founder of Betterworld.Solutions and founder and managing director, AESSEAL.

That's the message ahead of The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021 from Chris Rea, founder of main sponsor Betterworld.Solutions, who are helping companies to speed up the process.

EARLY BIRD TICKETS: Be part of the summit - Tuesday, November 9 - with discounts available until September 3, at £121.50 + VAT - visit www.yorkshireclimatechange.co.uk.

It aims to co-ordinate and tackle regional change, while coinciding with world leaders and campaigners coming together for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, October 31 to November 12.

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Betterworld.Solutions's Chris Rea, also founder and managing director of AESSEAL, is a key speaker at the The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021 and here he previews their involvement.

The smokestacks and satanic mills that have blotted Yorkshire’s landscape since the first industrial revolution are slowly giving way to gleaming factories of the future as business leaders begin to embrace environmental technologies, writes Chris Rea.

At Betterworld.Solutions, we want to speed up this process by sharing cutting-edge examples of best practice in business and help Yorkshire lead the way in the next industrial revolution with off-grid manufacturing sites run by solar panels, ground source heat pumps, voltage optimisation and batteries.

We believe this is the standout economic opportunity for our region and that’s why we are backing The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021 – to put environmentally friendly business behaviour at centre stage as the UK recovers from the pandemic. If you need any evidence of the importance of this agenda, look at the crippling floods, droughts and heatwaves taking place across our planet.

The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021 will be held Tuesday, November 9.

It is not as if company directors have any other choice. Talk to global financiers and they will tell you that a company’s environmental characteristic will soon be the most important determining factor of its financial value. They are looking to the future and can see the power of environmentally conscious consumers in forcing change. The young will not buy from companies that are not environmentally friendly. They will not work for companies that are not environmentally friendly. And they will not forgive us for destroying their world.

Business leaders are not malicious or evil. They just don’t know about the environmental ideas and applications readily available to them. At many companies, there is a disconnect between the directors in the boardroom with obligations to their shareholders and the engineers in the field with their operational expertise and experience. All too often, the person with the knowledge about unnecessary waste or pollution is the technician on the factory floor. A small investment that would help could come from another department’s budget. But nothing is done because the decision-making chain is broken.

Betterworld.Solutions aims to bridge this gap by encouraging companies to commit to environmentally-friendly investments and share their experiences. The project started at my company, AESSEAL, as part of our transition to net zero and has spread to other like-minded Yorkshire manufacturers including Gripple, OSL Group and Powerstar. It is now going global with the international engineering giant DMG MORI and its 12,000 employees. Steve Finn, the UK managing director, told me: “Since joining, it became quickly apparent that sharing best practices opened opportunities for our company to further reduce our carbon footprint.”

The approach is simple. We encourage companies to adopt, publish and operate an investment policy that prevents global warming. This prompts boards to prioritise sustainable projects over other capital programmes with a similar return on investment. It invites staff, suppliers and other stakeholders to submit proposals for sustainable projects for consideration by directors who must respond in writing within three months. It shows how climate-friendly projects can also be business-friendly.

Carbon offsetting schemes will not be enough. As demand rises, availability of the underlying resources will fall and the price of schemes will increase beyond the ability of companies to afford them. It is economics in action – the science of scarcity. Betterworld.Solutions exists to show business leaders what they can do now to start reducing their carbon emissions. Otherwise they will lose their right to operate.

There is no excuse for delay. We calculate that widespread adoption of existing environmental technologies such as voltage optimisation, electric vehicles and process improvements could have the equivalent impact of taking nearly 530 million cars off the road. At AESSEAL, we are making in-roads with our own environmental impact with independent verification of net zero for direct and indirect emissions in our UK manufacturing operations and we are working towards net zero in our global business. We have shown what can be done.

I have grandchildren and I care about the world they will inherit. Company directors have children and grandchildren too, but they also have investors. Betterworld.Solutions will show them there is a hard-nosed business case for environmentally-friendly investment decisions. Starting in Yorkshire, the home of the first industrial revolution, we can build the gleaming factories of the future with the environmental technologies of today, a new off-grid manufacturing base to generate wealth and prosperity long into the 21st century.