A new Chapter, targeting net-zero carbon emissions

The climate crisis is real, fast and already here. Can Chapter Zero, a new network of business leaders, help us transition out of it?

Currently 85% of the world’s leading businesses seem to think that business-as-usual will get them through the climate crisis. They need to wake up. Our economy has been a threat to our climate for decades, but now our climate has become a very real and immediate threat to our economy — and to our existence as a species.

We need to transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 to keep global heating to 1.5ºC. Left unchecked, heating will likely reach 2º, meaning the death and displacement of hundreds of millions of people. Continuing with business-as-usual beyond that will take us to 4º by 2100 and create hothouse earth — meaning total societal collapse. 

Businesses who don’t play a part in this transition will suffer long in advance of us reaching 2º or 4º. They will risk major disruption to supply chains, punishing government policies, profoundly negative impact on stakeholder and customer sentiment, dramatic increase in resource costs and availability as well as a crippling reduction in asset values.  

This is not a good story. It is also not an exaggeration. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

For the businesses who lead the way in making the transition to net-zero, there will be significant opportunities for commercial and competitive advantage, via resource efficiencies and new energy sources, incentives, markets, products and services. Doing the right thing doesn’t have to mean sacrifice — it’s crucial that we grasp this. Making the transition to net-zero is simply good business.

But how do we do it? Enter Chapter Zero, established as part of the World Economic Forum Climate Governance Initiative, to help Chairs and Non-Executive Directors of leading businesses understand how to protect their asset values, adapt to physical risks, reduce their emissions and seize the opportunities that this transition offers. 

Wolff Olins has defined a stand-out brand name and identity to get Chapter Zero the attention they deserve. ‘Chapter’ because they are a group of leaders who meet to share knowledge and spread new ideas, and ‘Zero’ for the transition, represented as a literal target symbol that can be drawn and understood by anyone. It’s all rendered in yellow, the colour of fresh hope and enthusiasm.

Formed in partnership with ICAEW, the CBI, the Royal Institution and Carbon Trust, and hosted by Hughes Hall Cambridge, Chapter Zero is already gathering serious support. Mark Tucker, Chair of HSBC; David Tyler, Chair of Hammerson; Sir John Kingman, Chair of L&G; and Sarah Bates, Chair of MerianGlobal Investors and Polar Capital Technology Trust are all onboard.

Paul Hawken, founder of Project Drawdown, a compendium of solutions to the climate crisis, encourages us to see the crisis as something that’s not happening “to us”, but rather happening “for us.” It is an opportunity for us to create a better world.

Businesses will do well to seize it.

To have access to Chapter Zero’s resources and events, enroll as a member by visiting chapterzero.org.uk

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