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10 January 2020 | Thought Leadership

Looking back on COP25

The Warehouse Group's Chief Sustainability Officer, David Benattar, shares his thoughts on last month's COP25 event in Madrid. Read on for key takeaways from the panels and discussions that occurred there.


Two weeks of panel discussions and meetings between government, NGOs, scientists and business concluded last month at COP25 in Madrid. Our Group CEO Nick Grayston and I were there at the invitation of our government to talk about how we collectively can participate in the global effort to combat climate change. This was our first attendance of a COP summit,and after our move to become Carbon Neutral earlier this year, we were honoured to attend and share our perspective.

While it ultimately was a disappointing result, with no global agreement to Article 6 which regulates the international trade of carbon emission credits, the summit was full of valuable insights. With the current catastrophic bushfires wreaking havoc in Australia, there’s no better time than now to prioritise climate action and learn from those who are making strides in the space.

It was especially helpful to learn from Apple, IKEA, H&M and other global organisations who are transforming their business to address climate change. We heard from Europe, China, Indonesia, the UK, Fiji and many other nations on how climate action and policies are shaping the lives of their people. We saw Mike Bloomberg, John Kerry, Greta Thunberg and other luminaries engaged in progressing the cause of climate change.

Finally, we heard from business coalitions such as the American WeAreStillIn, which represents US cities, states, tribes, businesses, universities, healthcare organisations, and faith groups who are committed to fighting climate change despite its government's lack of action. We heard from its European equivalency WeMeanBusiness, whose member companies are worth close to 25% of the global economy, and which we are a proud member of.

Overall, there were three key points I observed that particularly resonated with me.

1. The engagement of the private sector is essential to addressing the climate crisis, which is also an oceans crisis, in ways that Governments and NGOs cannot do. Yet, we need regulation now.

Nigel Topping, CEO of WeMeanBusiness, summed up the importance of business and private sector working together best when he said, “When business action is paired with clear, consistent government policies it results in positively reinforcing ambition loops that will accelerate the full decarbonisation of every system of the economy at the pace and scale that science tells us is necessary.”

2. The whole economy must be a circular economy; zero waste is the other side of net zero emissions.

We cannot underestimate the power that a shift to a circular economy can hold for our country and the world at large. TWG understands the need to accelerate this transition and have begun to do our part through post-consumer waste recycling initiatives in each of our brands, from soft plastics to mobile phones and beyond.

We continue to focus on refining our packaging guidelines for merchandisers and suppliers to reduce unnecessary packaging waste and uncover new, more sustainable materials and processes.

3. We need to make this transformation inclusive to all and pay particular attention to the role of indigenous people.

Minority groups including indigenous groups and our youth were some of the boldest voices defending our planet and asking for their inclusion in international climate policy during COP25, and rightfully so. Did you know for example that globally, deforestation is 3 to 5 times lower in indigenous land than outside?

This February will mark the first anniversary of The Warehouse Group becoming certified Carbon Neutral. We will use this opportunity to release an in-depth report on COP25 to align with the anniversary.

I look forward to sharing more information soon.

David

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