9 August 2021
Today’s report is a shock – but it’s not a surprise. We all knew the world was at risk of losing the battle against climate change. We all knew there was much more to be done. We all knew that no nation could say hand on heart that it was doing enough.
Today’s report is alarming. It – and November’s COP 26 conference – must focus minds. Tackling climate change needs to be at the top of Governments’ agendas worldwide and resources found to allow rapid action.
This is going to mean making difficult decisions, but the experiences of the past 18 months have shown us that in times of crisis the world’s leaders can take previously unimaginable action to help protect human life.
But this isn’t just a problem for governments. We all need to act, and we all need to hold ourselves accountable.
Businesses must embed climate change mitigation at the heart of their strategies. Consumers must make their purchasing power count – as they increasingly are, with the growing interest in ethical, sustainable businesses and products, as well as alternative business models such as fashion rental. And the biggest brands and retailers must take action to drive and support change right through their supply chains, including in smaller businesses which might find it difficult to make changes on their own.
Philanthropists have already recognised that tackling climate change is arguably one of the biggest challenges humankind has ever faced. The investment community is starting to recognise the benefits of encouraging action to tackle climate change – and the consequences of inaction. However, the size of the issue means that greater funding is needed, and fast.
As individuals it’s easy to see climate change as an issue for government, or banks, or big business to solve. But we all need to take action, as we’ve all contributed to climate change.
The good news is that it isn’t yet too late for action. But we must act fast. Our only hope for stabilising the climate is reaching Net Zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
Earlier this year WRAP published Net Zero: why resource efficiency holds the answers. Developed in partnership with the University of Leeds, this sets out how changing the way we use materials as well as energy could deliver an additional 100 million tonnes CO2e reduction in UK emissions between 2023 and 2032 in the UK alone.
Tackling food waste, cutting calories and carbon at the same time, changing the carbon intensity of our diets, changing from goods to services, making better use of existing products, designing lightweight products, recycling more in the UK, and substituting materials can all make a contribution to Net Zero. Collaboration is also key. We must harness the power of partnerships, of working collaboratively to solve problems – across sectors, across beliefs, across borders. And we must make it easy to change for the better, because we know if we do then most people will make that change.
Collaboration, measurement and using evidence-based tools to drive behaviour change are at the core of WRAP’s way of working. It’s a way of working that has delivered results – from our business voluntary agreements such as The UK Plastics Pact and Courtauld Commitment 2030, to our award-winning Love Food Hate Waste and Recycle Now citizen behaviour change brands. Now we’re harnessing these powerful partnerships and impactful brands to reduce supply chain carbon emissions and water usage, to deliver change in 44 countries across the world, and to accelerate the move to Net Zero.
We’re inspired by the stories our partners tell us, about how adopting more sustainable business practices have improved their bottom lines and opened up whole new customer bases, or how working with our experts to develop policy resulted in funding for a public-private partnership. It’s clear that there is a huge desire to tackle climate change, and that it’s gaining momentum.
Over the past 18 months everyone in the world has experienced a global crisis unparalleled in most of our lifetimes, yet it’s a crisis that will be dwarfed by the environmental, geo-political, economic and health crises that we’re to face if we can’t curb climate change. It’s time to work together and use everything we’ve learnt from the COVID-19 crisis before it’s too late. Humanity, the natural world as we know it and future generations are depending on us to act, and act now.